Alcohol-fuelled violence and associated problems are being
addressed in a variety of ways in Dunedin. Rosie Manins talks
to some of those involved.
Alcohol is a key driver of crime in the Southern police
district, and a factor in a third of all crime, district
commander Superintendent Andrew Coster says.
''As a community we need to reflect on how the behaviour of
family and friends can be negatively impacted by alcohol, and
how we can all play a part in creating change to prevent this
happening,'' he said.
Police raised awareness of the negative impact on people's
lives from misuse of alcohol by spending more time in
communities and undertaking a range of associated activities,
such as foot and vehicle patrols to quell drunken disorder,
road checkpoints to target drink-driving, compliance checks
on licensed premises, and enforcement of liquor bans in
public places, he said.
The newly implemented Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, which
came into effect on December 19, was also helping publicans,
liquor licensing officers and police to manage excessive
drinking in Dunedin.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said excessive drinking not only led
to stupid or dangerous behaviour, it also put people at risk
of becoming victims themselves.
The mayor urged residents of Dunedin to try to get better at
looking out for one another, especially young tertiary
''You might get a bit pissed and belt someone or do something
stupid ... but you are just as likely to become vulnerable to
someone else if you drink too much, whether it's a sexual or
violent attack or a mugging,'' Mr Cull said.
Mr Cull applauded initiatives in the city which encouraged
safe alcohol consumption.
He cited Emerson's Brewery T-shirts with the slogan ''drink
less, enjoy more'' and the policy in some bars of serving
stronger beers in smaller quantities.
''For example, I know some places will only sell 7% alcohol
beer in a handle, not in a pint. I think there's a fair
degree of responsibility exercised by some of our bar
owners,'' he said.
Speight's Ale House owner Mark Scully said many hospitality
managers in Dunedin actively encouraged safe drinking
practices and rewarded sober drivers.
Mr Scully was among those to implement a Dunedin City Council
initiative providing free non-alcoholic drinks to designated
Sober driving packs were also given out at the bar, and staff
were encouraged to arrange safe transport for intoxicated
patrons, he said.
There was always a licensed manager on the premises, security
staff worked weekends, and non-alcoholic drinks and food were
available at all times.
Mr Scully said the safest place for people to consume alcohol
was at a licensed premises where sober staff, including
licensed managers and security, made for a controlled
Dunedin Collaboration Against Family Violence co-ordinator
Rob Thomson said alcohol did not cause violence, but it did
magnify violent situations.
''Alcohol does not make people violent, it's important to be
quite clear about that. What it can do is exacerbate existing
violence and it can result in, or increase, the escalation of
violence and the severity of violence,'' he said.
Alcohol and crime
• About 80% of prisoners have committed alcohol-related or
• About 80% of defendants have alcohol-dependency or
• In any given week, thousands of people appear in courts
nationally for alcohol-related offending.
• Most youth offending is alcohol-related.