Police sting targets 'boozy culture'

The New Zealand side of the operation lasted from 6pm on Friday to 6am yesterday, and involved 1069 police officers.
The New Zealand side of the operation lasted from 6pm on Friday to 6am yesterday, and involved 1069 police officers.

Drink drivers, irresponsible bar owners and brazen alcohol thieves were among those caught up in an international sting on New Zealand's boozy culture.

Police were enforcing liquor bans, checking licensed premises and conducting breath tests last night as part of the trans-Tasman Operation Unite.

During the weekend 289 arrests were made, 305 drivers tested over the legal breathe alcohol-limit and 24 bars or liquor stores were caught selling alcohol to minors.

One 16-year-old Auckland volunteer was about to step into an Onehunga liquor store when he witnessed the theft of boxed spirits.

Police say the bottle store worker suffered  cuts and grazes to his head and face when he confronted the youths.

The young volunteer quickly alerted nearby police officers, who took chase.

After a scuffle and use of pepper spray, two young men were arrested.

A 19 and 17-year-old have been  charged with theft and aggravated assault.

The 16-year-old Operation Unite volunteer was uninjured.

Police officers were also kept busy with disorderly behaviour.

Out of control parties were shut down in Rotorua and Tokoroa by Bay of Plenty Police.

Gore staff had bottles thrown at them while shutting a party down in  Kitchener St.  Two people were arrested for obstruction.

Auckland reported that at one checkpoint six drivers were over the legal alcohol limit.

This included two repeat drink drivers who blew over 1000 mcg  - more than twice the legal limit of 400 mcg.

Operation Unite spokesperson Acting Detective Superintendent Ross Grantham said it took more than a weekend of action to change the country's drinking culture.

"Shifting away from the drink to get drunk culture needs parents,  retailers, community and other interested groups to be actively involved,"  Grantham said.

"Sadly, all too often Police, health and other agencies  are left picking up the pieces of what started as someone's night of fun."

Operation Unite was the fourth trans-Tasman operation to counter the negative effects of alcohol.

More than 1000 officers worked on the operation last night with the help of District Licensing  Agencies, Maori Wardens and Community Patrols.

Operation Unite

* 47 assaults were reported - up from 17 on Friday night.

* 289 arrests were made - 49 more than Friday night.

* 27,560 drivers were breath tested at checkpoint operations. Of these 305 drivers returned a positive breath test compared with 162 on Friday night.

* 872 checks were made on hotels and bars where 49 breaches of the Sale of Liquor Act were detected - seven less than the previous night.

* 43 people were arrested for breaches of a liquor ban - eight less than Friday night.

* 342 warnings were given for breaches of the liquor ban - 164 more than  Friday night.

* 19 Liquor Infringement Notices were issued.

* 100 bars and bottle stores were visited as part of controlled purchase operations. Of these 24 outlets sold alcohol to minors and will  face further action.

Sunday Star Times