On the beat with local police

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN IN ALEXANDRA
Last updated 05:00 27/12/2013

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Reporter Jo McKenzie-McLean this month tagged along with Alexandra police to find out how the new alcohol laws were working. 

A young man stands outside Alexandra's top pub slurring his words on the phone to his dad. He has just tried bursting through the back door of the bar after the doormen turned him away for being drunk.

The man had been a private Christmas work function and had been part of a larger group that had also been turned away for being too intoxicated.

While the young man sways looking sorry for himself on the sidewalk, an empty courtesy coach pulls up. The driver had been to a work function for a pick up and was presented with a room full of drunk people. "I wasn't taking them anywhere", she tells the doormen before disappearing through the door.

Central Otago's sub area supervisor Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk said licensees who refused to serve or let intoxicated people through the door were taking their responsibilities seriously - something the law demanded of them.

A definition of intoxication has been written into the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, which was introduced last week, to give clear guidelines to police and bar staff.

The act aims to improve New Zealand's drinking culture and reduce the harm caused by excessive drinking.

"It's about having a drink if you want one in a safe licensed premises. When people get intoxicated that's when problems occur and unfortunately a number of people cannot handle alcohol and their personality changes. People who are intoxicated tend to lack the judgement they would normally have."

Liquor Liaison officer Senior Constable Gordy Pay said the act had "really not changed how the day to day operation of a bar will be".

"Patrons should not notice much difference."

However, police could now issue instant fines to managers for serving an intoxicated or underage person, as well as ticketing a person using a false ID or loaning their ID to someone, he said. "People have got it in their mind it is all new but we are still policing it the same. It's good they are talking about it . . . there is a high awareness."

Senior Constable Pay is not a new face to patrons or managers as he walks through the different establishments on Friday night.

He is greeted with handshakes and hellos as he makes his way through the bar chatting along the way. Interestingly, several patrons ask both him and Senior Sergeant Kerrisk about the alcohol law changes and how it affects them.

"It is nice to hear that they are interested and educating themselves about the changes."

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- The Mirror

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