Arrests but police praise New Year's behaviour

Last updated 12:51 01/01/2013

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There were arrests, but Kiwis have welcomed in the New Year in largely untroubled celebrations.

In Waikato, police made 118 arrests in Whitianga, 109 in Whangamata and 20 in Tairua while in the Bay of Plenty there were 91 arrests.

Generally, however, police were praising the behaviour of most of the public across the district last night.

Waikato Police communications manager Andrew McAlley said their arrests were fantastic when compared to previous years.

''There are staff that are on today that recall 1200 being arrested a few years ago.''

''The behaviour is very good. We're hailing it as a return of the family. That's what we want to see - predominantly family groups out there enjoying themselves. That's what the summer holidays are all about.''

A majority of arrests were for breach of the liquor ban, which police had zero-tolerance for.

''If it wasn't breach of liquor ban it was alcohol-related disorder so there's probably a subliminal message there, I guess.''

Two 14-year-old girls who were found drunk, along with their adult caregiver at Williamson Park in Whangamata, were the youngest in breach of the liquor ban.

The girls were taken to a detox tent by police and returned to their parents.

''The one area of concern, if there has to be one, is again young women intoxicated in vulnerable positions.

''It's still predominantly men, but we're still seeing an increase in female representation and unfortunately the biggest area of concern is underage drinkers because they seem to be predominantly female in pretty sad states.''

McAlley said a number of people will be facing charges for the new year antics, including two for assault and one for breach of the peace.

Inspector Scott Fraser said most revellers in the Bay of Plenty were in great spirits and looking out for each other, but as always police were disappointed that small groups of people let themselves down.

"Not only does it concern us that nearly all of the incidents we had to deal were alcohol-related, a significant number involved unsupervised youngsters," Fraser said.

"There were way too many teenagers who had access to alcohol and were intoxicated to the point where they placed themselves at risk."

Arrest figures in the district early this morning were: Western Bay 47, Rotorua 27, Taupo 13 and Eastern Bay 4.

It was a similar story in the Nelson region with 28 arrests but police praising licensees for their part in a largely quiet New Year's Eve.

No assaults were reported and just a handful of arrests were made, Nelson Bays area commander Inspector Steve Greally said.

Patrons generally displayed reduced levels of intoxication throughout the night.

''I want to acknowledge the efforts of the licensees across the Nelson Bays area. There was greater vigilance and professionalism tonight. This is a great improvement on previous years,'' Greally said.

High visibility policing and zero tolerance on alcohol-related offending had managed to prevent victimisation.

''The work we have done over the year in changing people’s attitudes to what is acceptable behaviour was evident. To get through such a significant event without a single victim is an outstanding effort."

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Of the 28 arrests, 10 were for breaching liquor bans, 12 for disorder, five for intoxication and one for drugs.

In Christchurch, four people were caught driving with excess breath alcohol while a well-behaved crowd of about 5000 attended a concert at Hagley Park.

Only one person was arrested for disorderly behaviour and two were dealt with for intoxication.

Around the rest of the city there were few arrests, which were mainly for disorder and liquor ban offences.

Bay of Plenty police meanwhile reported the "most tweeted" event of their "virtual ride-along" campaign of the night was a event where a car hit a house, flattened a tree and landed on its roof.

The driver of the car and his passenger walked away with minor injuries in the incident around 10pm, police said.

Nearly 45,000 people followed the action on Twitter, with tweets coming from as far away as the Netherlands.

Most incidents attended on the "tweet beat" were alcohol-related, such as drink driving and disorder.

In one tweet police asked for information after a man received minor stab wounds at Mt Maunganui around 11pm.

After one fight in the street at Mt Maunganui three people were "spending their first day of the new year" with police.

A police tweet also noted: "2013 is here and way too many young people drinking too much and not looking after mates. Come on everyone; New Year fresh start."

A minority of the crowd at Mt Maunganui caused minor issues, but overall were reported to be well behaved.

At The Strand, in Tauranga, the crowd was well behaved with only three minor incidents through the night.

Area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton said it was the first time police in the area had operated the virtual ride-along and they had been amazed by the response.

"Throughout the entire shift we received a constant flow of messages commenting on the patrol and showing their support for the policing operation. Policing can be a thankless task so it was good for the staff who were working last night to hear the positive feedback from the Twitter community," he said.

It had  proved how useful a tool social media could be for communication and Bay of Plenty police would  consider more virtual patrols in the future."

- Stuff

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