Police out in force for booze blitz

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 08:00 08/12/2012

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Palmerston North police will be out in force this weekend as the annual trans-Tasman alcohol blitz takes place.

Now in its sixth year, Operation Unite sees police throughout New Zealand and Australia turn their focus toward alcohol-related offences, including drink-driving, assaults and licensing breaches.

Senior Sergeant Brett Calkin, from Palmerston North police, said extra staff would be working throughout the weekend and operations inside the city would include police visits to hotels and bars and alcohol checkpoints throughout the city.

Underage drinkers would be targeted, and infringement notices would be issued and followed up with parents or caregivers.

Officers would also be out on the street enforcing the liquor ban and monitoring other common alcohol-related offending. Covert operations will also take place.

National manager of Road Policing Superintendent Carey Griffiths said police spent about $200 million a year dealing with alcohol misuse, with alcohol a factor in at least a third of all arrests.

It was a factor in one in two cases of serious violence, one in three cases of family violence, one in four traffic offences, one in five traffic crashes, and cost the New Zealand justice sector an estimated $716m annually.

"Operation Unite aims to send a strong and clear message that police and the community will not put up with drunk driving, alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour and other related crime," Mr Griffiths said.

"Reducing alcohol-related harm is a top priority for police, but it's not just a police issue. The challenge for all of us as individuals, friends, families and whanau is to confront our drinking habits and do our part to stay safe."

Jon White, chief executive of ANZPAA, the agency that serves Police Commissioners across Australia and New Zealand, said the affordability and availability of alcohol was a significant contributor to the alcohol-related harm seen on both countries' roads, streets and in entertainment areas.

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- Manawatu Standard

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