Liquor offences, violence blight the new year

Busy start to 2014 for police

Last updated 05:00 02/01/2014
Fireworks light up the sky over Lake Te Anau
BARRY HARCOURT/Fairfax NZ
LIGHT SHOW: Fireworks light up the sky over Lake Te Anau to bring in the new year. Despite the rain, thousands of people joined celebrations at the town’s Lion Park.

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Brawls, facial burns and family violence were among the many incidents which kept southern police busy at New Year.

Senior Sergeant Maggie Windle, of Invercargill, said police were called to eight incidents of family violence in the early morning hours of January 1, with two women taken to hospital, one with serious injuries.

Alcohol was a contributing factor in the incidents, she said.

Emergency services were also called to several backyard bonfires in the city, with one man "running around with their face on fire", Ms Windle said.

Suburban Invercargill was the scene of several fights and assaults yesterday morning, with six arrests made in the city, mostly for disorderly behaviour.

Acting Senior Sergeant Dave Kennelly, of Invercargill, said on the whole, the behaviour in Invercargill and surrounds was good.

Those in bars and hotels had not been any trouble, he said.

One person was also arrested in Te Anau for disorderly behaviour.

Southland Hospital emergency department clinical leader Adam McLeay said the ED was inundated with New Year revellers affected by alcohol.

From 1am on New Year's Day to 7am the department treated 22 patients; 65 per cent had alcohol related health injuries or issues.

"We had . . . people with cuts and bruises, some burns from petrol on the barbecue," he said.

Emergency services were kept busy in Queenstown and Central Otago area, with thousands of people celebrating in the towns.

Senior Constable Chris Blackford, of Queenstown, yesterday said 28 people were arrested between 7pm on New Year's Eve and 7am yesterday.

"Concerns were expressed about the level of intoxication of a number of minors. Obviously people were pre-loading out of town and were drunk when they arrived."

Police southern deployment co-ordinator Steve Aitken said a brawl broke out in Wanaka early in the evening at a residential address, resulting in one person being arrested.

"It was just groups of people who had been drinking too much."

A man in Queenstown ended up in hospital after falling 5 metres from a roof.

A Southern Communications police spokesperson said emergency crews attended the accident at Industrial Place.

A 24-year-old was arrested for obscene exposure in Queenstown and eight others were arrested for disorder offences and detoxing.

"There's been disorder, but there are always a lot of people in Queenstown," Mr Aitken said.

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Up until 2am yesterday morning, only 33 arrests had been made in the Southern region, but police had more than 120 units patrolling Southland and Otago towns, he said.

Mr Aitken said the behaviour on the night was the same as previous years, with some people consuming too much alcohol and being silly, but the majority of revellers had been well behaved.

The new sale and supply of liquor act, liquor bans in areas and visible policing had all helped to keep arrests down and people out of trouble, he said.

- The Southland Times

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