Police prepared for busy week

Queenstown Lakes District Council town custodians Nick Fisher (left) and Dan Robertson put a sign in place to show where Wanaka's liquor ban area begins. Photo by Mark Price
Queenstown Lakes District Council town custodians Nick Fisher (left) and Dan Robertson put a sign in place to show where Wanaka's liquor ban area begins. Photo by Mark Price

The two-day Rhythm and Alps music festival in the Cardrona Valley is expected to add to the workload of police this New Year.

The festival is being held next Monday and Tuesday on a farm near Wanaka and will cater for up to 9500 people, including 5000 campers.

Wanaka sub-area commander Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell says police will run two separate operations - one for the festival and the other for New Year's Eve celebrations in Wanaka.

Both will require extra staff from Dunedin; Snr Sgt Grindell declined to say how many.

As in previous years, the police focus would be on alcohol. A complete liquor ban around Lake Wanaka between Eely Point and Edgewater Resort - including the Wanaka CBD - applies from 6am tomorrow to January 6.

Snr Sgt Grindell said members of the public could buy alcohol within the area covered by the ban but could not consume it or ''have possession for the purposes of consuming'' in the ban area.

In addition to police having the ''power of arrest'', the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act also allows them to impose a $250 infringement fee.

Snr Sgt Grindell said the police approach in the liquor ban area would be one of education.

''Basically it's advising people they are in breach of the ban, and the consequences, and ask them to remove the alcohol.''

Police were not intending to be ''throwing out heaps of tickets and locking people up''.

How well people responded to the education message would determine the action taken by police.

Snr Sgt Grindell said police would take a serious view of bars serving intoxicated people or allowing them to be on their premises. He did not consider there was any great difference between the old and the new legislation in that area.

''If they run their bars well, have security on the doors, and if bar staff are alert when serving alcohol, it shouldn't really be a problem.

''Managers need to ensure their security and their bar staff are on their toes.''

All front-line staff had iPads and iPhones which could be used to record incidents of intoxication.

Senior Sergeant Grindell said on the road, as well as focusing on drink-driving and speeding, police would be paying attention to motorists crossing the centre line.

This was a particular problem in the Cardrona and Kawarau gorges and was often associated with motorists driving too fast and cutting corners as a result.

It was something about which police got a lot of complaints, Senior Sergeant Grindell said.

''And we action them,'' he said.

''You will have heard of these things where someone's complained about someone's driving and then sure enough, a day later you see that car involved in a serious crash.

''So when those complaints come in about speed, about passing, about failing to keep left, we certainly follow them up.''

mark.price@odt.co.nz