Kapiti booze ban rules out drinking in public

There will be a widespread ban on consuming alcohol or carrying it in open containers in Kapiti between 9pm and 6am.

The temporary ban will take effect 14 days after being publicly advertised, and will run from December till May, with consultation on permanent changes planned for next year.

Kapiti Coast District Council discussed the ban at its meeting last Thursday.

The ban allows police to search bags, containers and cars for open alcohol containers, seize any alcohol found and arrest offenders.

However, Section 170 of the Local Government Act places conditions on that authority - people must be given the opportunity to take alcohol out of the ban area before they are searched.

The ban comes after the deaths of Izak Millanta and Sean Strongman-Lintern from alcohol-related incidents in the Kapiti Lights area.

Kapiti Mana area commander John Price spoke to the council in support of the ban and provided data on road crashes and other events related to alcohol.

Police data showed that alcohol-related police event frequency began rising sharply from about 4pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, peaked between 10pm and midnight and declined to low levels by about 3am.

Inspector Price said alcohol was one of the three main drivers of crime and road crashes.

Councillor Peter Ellis asked him whether the limited ban was what he really wanted.

"Or is a 24/7 ban better? Should it cover all of the area?"

Inspector Price said: "That would be ideal but we have to do it step-by-step on the basis of firm data.

"That it is a pilot means we can go back and address the timings. The timings are supported by the data," he said.

Inspector Price said it was his clear expectation that police would apply discretion in their enforcement of the ban.

Medical officer of health Stephen Palmer gave his support to the temporary bylaw.

"However, we would like to say that it shouldn't be seen as the only strategy for dealing with this problem," he said.

Dr Palmer had returned to Kapiti to live recently, he said.

"It was quite distressing, the first weekend I was back to live in Kapiti to see Coastlands cordoned off."

Police cordoned the Kapiti Lights area twice while they investigated late-night deaths, apparently by alcohol-related violence in recent months.

However, the liquor ban was only part of a greater strategy to reduce alcohol harm in Kapiti.

He said youth travel from Porirua and Otaki and pre- loading in private homes was also a factor.

"It might be picked up in the transport corridors to Kapiti Lights or to Courtenay Place but the problem occurs in the home or close to the home. It is really easy to be seduced by the police statistics, which are really only a symptom of the problem."

"We don't want to focus on the negative and the alcohol," he said.

"There is a trend overseas to focus on good social norms rather than focus on the negatives."

Mr Ellis wanted to extend the ban to start earlier at 6pm but his amendment was defeated. The 9pm until 6am ban passed unanimously.

Kapiti Observer