Police target drink-fuelled violence

Last updated 11:14 07/12/2012

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Expect more police on the streets of Timaru this weekend, as law enforcement agencies throughout Australasia crack down on drunken violence.

This weekend marks the sixth time law enforcement on both sides of the Tasman coordinated their efforts in Operation Unite, targeting alcohol-related crime in cities across New Zealand and Australia.

The operation begins in Timaru at 7pm tonight and concludes at 3am on Sunday, Senior Sergeant Mark Offen said.

It effectively means bringing on more personnel to reinforce the efforts Timaru police have already been making to address alcohol-related crime in the city, he said.

With the additional resources at hand police will target drink drivers in rural areas and in town, rigorously enforce liquor bans and other alcohol offences relating to public places, conduct checks of on- and off-license premises, hotels and clubs and be on the lookout for underage drinkers.

Alcohol-related offences tend to rise at this time of year, as people attend holiday functions and otherwise spend more time out socialising, Mr Offen said.

"There’s a noticeable increase of people in town outside of what you’d consider normal business," he said.

In New Zealand, alcohol-related crime costs the justice sector an estimated $716 million annually, according to Superintendent Carey Griffiths, national manager of road policing.

"The impacts of alcohol related offending accounts for almost 20 percent of the police budget, as well as one in four traffic offences, one in five traffic crashes, one in two cases of serious violence, and one in three cases of family violence," he said in a prepared statement. "That has to change."

Jon White, CEO of ANZPAA, the agency that serves police commissioners across Australia and New Zealand, said in a prepared statement that the message police are hoping to send to the public is to be safe.

"It is about the community thinking responsibly and sensibly when going out drinking in public and being aware of the environment around them," he said.

"Go out and have a good time, but don’t let the fun get out of hand."

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- The Timaru Herald

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