Call to name-and-shame Bridge St louts

Locals want end to boozy weekend chaos

MICHELLE SUTTON
Last updated 07:00 06/04/2012
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A name-and-shame campaign has been suggested as Nelson police battle with anti-social behaviour in the city.

Police are re-directing about a dozen extra staff from other areas to deal with the boozy weekend chaos around Bridge St from 10pm to 4am, which resulted in 34 arrests in bars and around the street last weekend.

Police have dealt with the equivalent of at least one offence a day for public disorder or violent offending in the Bridge St area in the last year, with  291 on the street itself and another 91 at Buxton Square.

However, police say the wider problem, indicative of New Zealand's drinking culture, was much bigger than just Bridge St.

"Most of our really serious assaults don't happen in Bridge St, they happen in the outer streets as people are heading home from Bridge St . . a lot of other issues that have their genesis in Bridge St aren't captured by this approach,'' Area Commander Inspector Steve Greally said.

Nelson punter James Brendon Burke, who moved to Nelson this year, said he felt safer walking through Wellington city the night of the sevens rugby tournament, than he did going down Bridge St.

"Bridge St is nasty. I felt safer walking through Wellington city at midnight on the night of the Sevens than I ever will waking a hundred metres down Bridge St at night or even setting foot in Buxton carpark," he said.

Resident Anthony Martin suggested a name-and-shame campaign. It would be supported by victims caught up in the drunken violence.

"I'm sure they would agree with police tactics: name and shame then see how tough they are,'' he wrote to the Nelson Mail Facebook page.

"They'll probably run out of room to name and shame with the number of drunken tuffy's (sic) round Nelson," Renea Norling said.

Mr Greally and Nelson city councillor Ruth Copeland are calling for further community help to find solutions to the problem.

They met this week to discuss solutions to the problem.

Bridge Street Collective founder Galen King said there was regularly blood, vomit and urine outside the studio's Bridge Street entrance. People also felt threatened about working in the studio Thursday to Saturday because of the behaviour they encountered on the street when they left.

However, he had other concerns about a lack of street lighting and conditions in certain city areas, such as Buxton Square, that were conducive to anti-social behaviour when people were drinking alcohol late at night.
Ms Copeland said one option was to increase the street ambassadors programme, which involved social workers patrolling the street on weekend nights during spring and summer. It costs about $60,000 to run, paid for by the Ministry of Justice and the Canterbury Community Trust.

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Private funding was needed to expand the programme so it ran for longer, Ms Copeland said, suggesting sponsorship deals.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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