Drunken acts keep police busy

More than 20 people were arrested in Blenheim at the weekend for fighting and disorderly behaviour.

Marlborough area commander Inspector Simon Feltham said officers dealt with a "disturbingly large number of highly intoxicated people" on Friday and Saturday nights.

One woman required ambulance assistance when she "was so intoxicated she simply fell over and in the process injured herself and was unable to get back up", he said.

About 12.30am a 17-year-old youth was arrested after he smashed two shop windows at Lynfords and Thomas's in Blenheim town centre. 

The unemployed youth was held in custody until he was sober, before being bailed to appear in the Blenheim District Court on January 7.

Mr Feltham said police were also called to Lucas St, where a large number of people were involved in a fight. He confirmed the fight involved gang members, but said it was not gang-related.

Constable Andrew Holdaway, of Blenheim, said the majority of those arrested for disorderly behaviour were held in custody until sober, before being released with a pre-charge warning.

New alcohol legislation that came into effect last week resulted in 10 people being issued with on-the-spot fines of $250 for breaching the liquor ban and using fake identification to get into bars.

"This new legislation gives us some good tools for intervening and preventing disorder," Mr Feltham said.

While Fairweathers declined to comment on the new legislation, other bar owners in town said they noticed an increased presence of police officers throughout the weekend.

Paddy Barry's Irish Pub owner Liz McElhinney said it was "business as usual" for them, while Biddy Kate's Irish Bar owner Terry Sloan said they had had no problems.

"People were definitely aware of it, but we had a pretty happy sort of weekend, the police were through a few times and they were happy with what we had going on," he said.

Mr Feltham said police would be keeping a close eye on bars and night spots as holiday season got into full swing.

"We want people to enjoy the holidays and have a good time, but we won't be tolerating drunk and disorderly behaviour," he said.

As well as giving police officers the power to issue alcohol infringement notices, the new rules meant bars nationwide had to shut their doors by 4am and could lose their licences if an intoxicated person even stepped on to their premises.

Adults could also be fined for giving alcohol to minors who were not their own children.

"What we now need to work towards is a reduction in the opening hours for licensed premises. I have no doubt that would lessen the level of alcohol-related offending," Mr Feltham said.

The Marlborough Express