Hundreds arrested in alcohol crackdown

Hundreds of people were arrested and charged with alcohol-related offences over the weekend during a trans-Tasman police operation.

The joint initiative, Operation Unite, was conducted on Friday and yesterday and was a collaboration of Police Commissioners across Australia and New Zealand.

Police said the intention of the operation was to highlight the implications associated with alcohol misuse in public, including crime and anti-social behaviour, and health and injury problems.

A spokeswoman said more than 700 New Zealand police staff took part in Operation Unite on Friday night and more than 800 were involved last night.

Police checked licensed premises and party venues, carried out foot patrols, and had compulsory breath testing checkpoints.

More than 400 arrests were made across New Zealand and more than 300 people will be prosecuted for drink driving offences.

Northland Road Policing Manager Inspector Murray Hodson said at least a third of recorded violence offences and family violence incidents in 2009/10 were committed where the offender had consumed alcohol prior to committing the offence.

"Alcohol is also a significant factor in public disorder offences and fatal or serious injury crashes.

"This is unacceptable and there are many people in our communities suffering from the effects of alcohol abuse."

Mr Hodson said young people continued to be a high risk group around alcohol, often preloading on cheap drinks before heading into town where they became potential victims and offenders.

The weekend's operation was the sixth time it had taken place.

In 2010, the initiative was conducted over just a 12 hour period. Of the 31,777 drivers stopped in New Zealand, 200 were found to be driving with an excess blood alcohol level.

In 2009, over a two-day period, there were 349 arrests in New Zealand for alcohol-related offending, and 312 for drunk driving.

- Rebecca Quilliam of APNZ

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