Police to review communications as scrutiny of liquor licence tactics continues
Police have admitted their communications were "poorly worded", after they were accused of trying to drum up opposition to a controversial liquor licence application in central Wellington.
Police shared a templated guide on social media, showing Aro St residents how to oppose the application convert a fruit and vegetable shop into an off-licence.
Wellington human rights lawyer Michael Bott said that, by sharing the guide, police had ceased to be a neutral party and may have provided grounds for a legal challenge.
"It is a form of eliciting public response that pre-determines the outcome," he said.
Police said on Tuesday that they would review their communications, and conceded poor wording when discussing the issue with residents.
"Police acknowledge that some of the communication issued to local residents and businesses on this occasion was poorly worded," Inspector Shane Cotter, district manager harm prevention, said.
"We will be reviewing our communication to ensure this is not repeated."
He said any community engagement over liquor licence applications was done on a case-by-case basis. Considerations included crime rates and concerns around alcohol harm in the area.
Fruit shop owner Manjula Patel, who also owns a dairy next door, said it was "too late" for police to admit missteps in the handling of opposition to her licence application, as the damage had already been done.
"They already put their objection to everyone."
Regional Public Health's medical officer of health Stephen Palmer said it also opposed the liquor licence application.
He said he was "concerned that the applicant seeking the liquor licence has not adequately acknowledged the health concerns of the local community and sought to mitigate those".
There were also concerns about the location of the bottle shop, and the impact the increased availability of alcohol would have on the community.