City police prepared for party mayhem

LISA KNIGHT
Last updated 12:00 29/08/2014

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Palmerston North police are ahead of the eight-ball when it comes to dealing with out-of-control parties, according to a Manawatu police inspector.

A review released yesterday by the Independent Police Conduct Authority, conducted after an increasing number of complaints involving incidents where parties were closed down, found that police were working to ensure officers called upon to deal with out-of-control gatherings were well trained for the situation.

The authority chairman, Judge Sir David Carruthers, said it reviewed eight cases from a five-year period and examined issues relating to the extent of the police's legal powers, the reasons why they decided to close down parties, and the methods used to clear partygoers.

"The review found that police usually decided to close down parties due to complaints of fighting or disorder, and they regularly encountered verbal abuse and bottle-throwing from partygoers," he said.

"The authority recognises that police are often confronted with difficult situations when called to deal with noisy and out-of-control parties in suburban areas."

Palmerston North police Inspector Brett Calkin said out-of-control parties were not a big problem here compared to other areas of the country.

"Occasionally we have parties with a large number of gatecrashers turning up. They can cause some disorder or spill out on to the street, broken bottles, noise and that's when we obviously go along and determine if we should inspect the party-goers or talk to the hosts and move people on," he said.

The authority review recommended that police monitor social media to identify upcoming parties, which was something already done in Palmerston North, Calkin said.

"We monitor social media on a daily basis for upcoming open-invitation parties and people in the community monitor and tell us what's happening. If there's one coming up we go and pay people a visit and chat to them. It's mostly young people who don't realise that they could be courting disaster."

Calkin said prevention of these situations was key.

Massey University Students' Association president Linsey Higgins said although there were certain times of the year when student parties could be more troublesome, police had effective initiatives to deal with them.

"It's not necessarily a police issue. It's how we treat alcohol as a society; rather than just responding to it, we need to address the issue," Higgins said.

Calkin said there was a party register at the Palmerston North police station where hosts could register their event and receive advice on best practice.

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New Zealand Police acting assistant commissioner operations Sam Hoyle said police had worked with the authority since late 2013 to develop clearer advice for staff.

- Manawatu Standard

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