Christchurch mayor Bob Parker says he cannot recommend walking on Christchurch streets after midnight as new figures show the city is the most violent in the country.
He is suggesting a "draconian" crackdown on alcohol sales as a way to combat the problem.
"Walking around our streets after midnight is not something I'd recommend to people," Parker said yesterday. "It's crazy out there."
His comments are the opposite of those of his predecessor, Garry Moore, a year ago.
In December last year, Christchurch District Court Judge Phil Moran said when sentencing a man that Christchurch streets were no longer safe late at night.
Moore, mayor at that time, said the judge's comments were "absolute crap".
An analysis of crime statistics as a proportion of population now shows Christchurch has the country's highest rates for violent crimes, including grievous assaults, serious assaults, minor assaults and sexual attacks.
Central Auckland was second in all violence categories and ahead on total crime, but Christchurch also led the way in burglary, car theft and property damage.
Parker said alcohol was a big factor in the statistics, with police quoting alcohol as an influence in 85 per cent of their arrests.
Measures that might appear "draconian" would be required to rein in the serious problem, which was damaging Christchurch's reputation, he said.
Queenstown's lout culture was dealt a blow when the local council restricted bars to 4am closing.
Parker said the Christchurch City Council had moved to restrict drunkenness in the early hours through initiatives such as the liquor accord imposing exit only from central city bars after 4am.
However, the evidence on the streets - broken bottles and puddles of urine and vomit - showed alcohol was still readily available in the early hours, he said.
The proliferation of 24-hour convenience stores, supermarkets and bars competing to make a profit from alcohol was making liquor freely available.
"We are going to have to look at the licensing rules in our city," Parker said.
"Do we have to do what Queenstown has done and reduce the number of hours these places are open?"
The move would be a "last resort", but the problem would require a heavy hand until there was a societal change that meant drunkenness was considered to be "loser behaviour", he said.
Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls, of police national headquarters in Wellington, said police were solving more crime in Christchurch than in the past.
In 1997-98, the total crime rate in the city was 1136.5 per 10,000 residents, compared with 914.1 per 10,000 in 2006-07.
The resolution rate for all Christchurch crime had risen from 35.1 per cent in 2001-02 to 40.4 per cent this year, while that for sexual crimes had gone from 43.5pc in 1998-99 to 68.4pc, he said.
The New Zealand urban centres Quality of Life survey in 2006 showed that when night falls, 58pcof Christchurch residents feel unsafe or very unsafe in the city.
Christchurch City councillor Yani Johanson said this figure had fallen, with a resident survey in September this year showing only 27pc of people felt safe in the city after dark.
- The Press
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