Tuesday, 10 February 2009 - 9:59am |

The Com-Be Zone (Community Behaviour Zone)

2 min read

An old fashioned 'clip around the ear' with a modern, electronic twist is about to be administered to persistent alcohol offenders in the Riccarton community.

The local community and Police are working together to monitor the behaviour of people, in particular young, who choose to behave in an inappropriate manner.

"Whether this is simply being too noisy in a residential street late at night or having to be removed from a licensed premise as a result of inappropriate behaviour, these individuals need to be held accountable and given a consequence for their actions," says Constable Danny Morris.

Minor disorder has been a problem in the Riccarton area of Christchurch for years, generally with young people who have had too much alcohol.

The Com-Be Zone is a program devised by the community and Police, which aims at influencing these individuals into managing their alcohol consumption in a more civilised way, says Constable Morris.

"We want to reduce anti social behaviour, decrease community degradation and prevent rather than respond to liquor abuse."

Nine local licensees, On and Off license, were approached by police as how to manage the problem of largely student drinking and behaviour. They decided that by working together they could have a positive influence. They have liaised with key stakeholders within the local communities; licensees, Community Constables, Community Boards, University of Canterbury Student Association, Neighbourhood Support, Residents and Business associations.

This all works very simply; when a person is banned from a licensed premise for inappropriate behaviour for four weeks, (the agreed mandatory time), that name is now sent to all the group so they are aware and can take the necessary action if that person attempts to either enter premises or buy alcohol from somewhere else. When someone is banned from one, they are now banned from all.

Messages are sent by text on cell phones provided and supported by ACC.

A name on the list will be kept after the four weeks so repeat offenders can be identified and dealt with a harder penalty.

"The ban's not designed to stop a person from drinking alcohol completely but to disturb their social network and limit its availability," says Danny Morris. "If they are banned a second time we'll call them in for a chat and they may get a written warning but if their name comes up again a third time they'll be summonsed and charged with disorderly behaviour.

If police are called to a disorder job in the residential area they can also ban an individual or group.

The initiative will encourage licensees to check all ID's improving their procedures. Identifying the person should not be an issue as the target group for this project is the same target group that are being asked for ID anyway.

"Young people, and these are mostly between 18-21 years old, have to show ID when they buy alcohol at a bar or off licence. They are used to being questioned about their age," says Danny Morris.

The Com-Be Zone is a community response to a local problem, allowing the community to regain ownership of their community again.

Constable Danny Morris

Canterbury Alcohol Strategy and Enforcement Team