An ''outrageous'' initiative will see undercover police
officers ''spying on patrons'', Hospitality Association chief
executive Bruce Robertson says.
Southern district police last month began stationing
plain-clothes officers in licensed premises to ensure
licensees were complying with the Sale and Supply of Alcohol
But that approach has raised the ire of the Hospitality
''It's not appropriate for police to be spying on patrons,''
Mr Robertson said.
''If it wasn't so serious it'd almost be funny.
''They [licensees] can just as readily be inspected by a
uniformed police officer. We think the public will find this
Dunedin alcohol harm reduction officer Senior Constable Ian
Paulin said the policy had not been used in Dunedin yet,
''but it will happen''.
''It's going to supply valuable information about what goes
on in licensed premises,'' he said.
It would not result in a reduction in uniformed officers
patrolling the streets and the officers who went undercover
would be ''brought in from outside the area, not impacting
local numbers'', he said.
It was not about trying to catch licensees in an underhanded
''If they are doing a great job, that information will be fed
back to the bars, so it will go both ways,'' Snr Const Paulin
Licensees were recently sent information about the policy and
their obligations under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act.
The initiative would run until July next year, ''targeting
risk times and risk events'', he said. Police first used the
tactic in Queenstown late last month.
Otago rural prevention manager Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell
said the initiative provided benefits which traditional
police work could not.
''We will be able to observe the behaviours of patrons over a
longer period of time and see how a licensee manages this
behaviour,'' he said.
''Under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, there are
new responsibilities on all of us to manage alcohol more
"Our plainclothes staff will have a particular focus on
intoxication in bars, but they will also note and observe
activities surrounding host responsibility and security.''
If police saw intoxicated patrons and they believed it could
amount to an offence or escalate into an incident of disorder
or violence, a team consisting of police, council licensing
inspectors and Public Health South would be informed.
Those operating within the law did not need to worry, he
''It's the expectation of police and our partner agencies
that the aim of licensed premises staff must be to prevent
patrons from becoming intoxicated or allowing them to remain
on the premises if intoxicated.
''Premises operating ... within the law will have nothing to
be concerned about.''
Hospitality Association Central Otago branch president Chris
Buckley said he had not heard about any action being taken
after the recent use of undercover officers in Queenstown.
But he felt the policy was ''underhanded''.
''It's a bit of a shame it's got to this,'' he said.
''I honestly don't care if they want to play like that,
that's fine, they won't find anything.''
Dunedin City Council liquor licensing co-ordinator Kevin
Mechen said it was ''a good idea'' and ''can only be
''For late night staff it's really up to them to make sure
they are looking after the licensees' licence.
"But if they are doing everything right they have nothing to
fear and if they aren't doing it right, they are tarnishing
the name of everybody else,'' he said.
Hospitality Association Otago branch president Mark Scully
said he did not want to ''protect members who break the
law'', but there were better ways of targeting them.