Violence levels 'unacceptable'


Police are concerned about the level of violence in Marlborough as serious assaults in public places here outstrip the national average.

Marlborough police area commander Inspector Simon Feltham said the number of people being assaulted had reached unacceptable levels.

Central Blenheim on Friday and Saturday nights was particularly bad.

Alcohol was a huge driver of crime and the town was definitely busier as more people headed to the bars as the weather warmed up, he said.

"People are consuming a lot of alcohol prior to coming into town and a lot of them are coming to town after midnight," he said.

"We're finding people that are grossly intoxicated, at the stage where they need medical treatment every weekend."

An ACC Injury Comparison Report showed 27.54 serious assaults resulting in injury per 10,000 people in Marlborough. The national average is 23.8 per 10,000 people.

Four criminal offences are used to track alcohol-related offending: public place assaults, public place disorder, liquor ban breaches and drink-driving offences.

Public place disorders in Marlborough were almost twice the national average, at 176.6 per 10,000 people, compared with the national figure of 95.9.

But while the rates in Marlborough are higher than the New Zealand average, those figures existed only when police apprehended people, Mr Feltham said.

"The more enforcement that happens, the more those figures can go up," he said. "We've got a small population, so minimal changes in offending have a big impact."

Extra police had been patrolling roads into Blenheim in the past month with the aim of intercepting drink-drivers and drunk people heading to town, Mr Feltham said.

"People are being arrested for disorderly behaviour and breaching the liquor ban, prior to getting involved in confrontations which result in assaults," he said.

The Marlborough Express