Dob in repeat drink-drivers, police urge

EVAN HARDING
Last updated 05:00 23/08/2014
Southland Times photo
BARRY HARCOURT/Fairfax NZ
Senior sergeant Richard McPhail.

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Southland police are urging the public to dob in repeat drink-drivers putting innocent lives at risk on our roads.

Ministry of Justice figures reveal nearly 150 people in Southland and Central Otago were convicted of at least their third drink-driving offence last year.

Southland police area manager prevention Inspector Olaf Jensen said the drink-drive message was not getting through to some people and police needed the help of the public to get them off the roads.

"It's disappointing. They are putting not only their own lives at risk, but also that of their families and other road users."

Repeat drink-drivers were a focus of police and the public could help, Jensen said.

"They [public] can contact us anonymously so we can target those people."

Senior Sergeant Richard McPhail, Eastern Southland sub-area commander, said repeat drink-drivers made up 25 per cent of drink-driving offenders.

Most people learnt from a drink-drive conviction the first time around.

But for those who didn't, family and friends played an important role in stopping them from getting behind the wheel, he said.

Repeat drink-drivers often had alcohol dependency issues and other problems that required help from a range of agencies.

Southland police continued to keep the pressure on drink-drivers throughout the region, with the likes of drink-driving campaigns, targeted operations at holiday weekends, mobile and compulsory breath testing, liquor infringement notices and liquor ban enforcement, McPhail said.

A panel set up in Eastern Southland to give repeat drink-drivers a reality check is waiting on its first referral.

The panel is made up of police, St John, firefighters, a victim of drink-driving, a restorative justice facilitator and a former offender who has learnt from their mistakes.

The panel will ensure the repeat drink-driver hears what impact his or her actions have had on others in the commu- nity.

The first offender will meet the panel when a judge in the Gore District Court refers them.

The initiative is a pilot for Southland and, if successful, may be rolled out in other centres.

Corrections Gore service manager Rachel Henry said the scheme, known as restorative justice, provided an opportunity to hold the offender accountable for their offending and, as far as possible, repair the harm caused to the victim and community.

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The panel would meet with the offenders before they were sentenced by the courts.

Corrections said the initiative fitted with its goal to reduce reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017.

- The Southland Times

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