New Zealand's party town has its share of alcohol-related
crime, but Queenstown's top police officer says the resort's
streets are still safe.
Senior Sergeant John Fookes talks to Queenstown reporter
Tracey Roxburgh in the second part of the Booze Control: Stop
and Think series.
It may not come as a surprise to learn that almost 100% of
people arrested in Queenstown during the early hours of any
given morning are affected - to some degree - by alcohol.
About 80% of people who become victims during those hours are
also affected by alcohol.
However, despite the headlines and the seemingly endless
reports of assaults fuelled by alcohol, the resort's top
police officer firmly believes Queenstown is a safe place to
Senior Sergeant John Fookes has just overseen his 14th New
Year's Eve celebrations in the resort and said in that time
the number of residents had grown, as had the number of
The increase in people had led to an increase in crime - but
it was in proportion to the growth.
''When there was some quite aggressive marketing to the east
coast of Australia, we certainly saw a lot more young males
coming over during the winter.
''If you're going to tap the young male market and promote
alcohol you're probably going to get some misbehaviour out of
''It's a very safe community to live in. However, if you get
stuck into the grog you similarly increase your chances of
doing something stupid or potentially becoming a victim.
''So, if you look at the pie chart of people offending we are
reasonably typical ... it's generally young people, although
not exclusively, and it's more males than females.
''If you're marketing to those groups ... if those groups are
increasing ... it's not surprising that we get an increase in
Queenstown police dealt with their fair share of tourists -
both domestic and international - and it was not uncommon for
some of those to come to police attention during their stay.
''It seems to be ... when you're away from your home
environment, your inhibitions seem to [dissipate] somewhat.
''For whatever reason people don't necessarily conform to the
same [standards] they might do, particularly when they're at
''When these inhibitions drop and you don't feel connected to
a place ... your behaviour deteriorates.''
It was the same anywhere else in New Zealand, particularly
given the increased availability of alcohol and society's
attitude towards intoxication.
''I think it's become a lot more acceptable for people to
become drunk when they go out.
''If you go back two or three decades for example, it was
probably considered far less appropriate for women to be
under the weather - that's just the way society viewed that.
''Sometimes significant change in society is only embedded
when it becomes part of the culture.''
Snr Sgt Fookes believed the significant majority of licensees
in the resort were doing a good job in what was a difficult
Their focus was on two main areas - preventing underage or
intoxicated patrons entering licensed premises and preventing
people becoming intoxicated on licensed premises.
Of critical importance to remember was that the industry sold
a product which altered the ability of the consumer to think
clearly and behave as they normally would.
''You are going to strike problems from time to time.''
The new legislation introduced in December aimed to find
''reasonable ground'' between regulation, the objective of
the Act - to reduce alcohol-related harm - and personal
responsibility, he said.
While agencies like the police, council and district
licensing authorities all had a role to play, Snr Sgt Fookes
said the personal responsibility element was critical.
''When you are on licensed premises, licensees and managers
and staff have obligations.
But they are not your mother and father.
''We [the police] have duties we are required to do ... but
that's different from being the moral police.
''We are not responsible for people, people are responsible
''We are responsible for identifying people who are ...
vulnerable, or have offended or are likely to offend, but we
can't take responsibility for every individual who wanders
He believed if, as a society, we began doing a better job of
looking after our mates, some of the issues would be reduced.
''If you've got half-decent friends with you, they will also
take an interest in your wellbeing ... having other people
around you who can pick up and intervene early ... is really,
However, more important, was doing a better job of taking
responsibility for ourselves.
''If you end up in court, there's nothing to say that's not
going to mess up your chances [in life].
''It's as simple as Googling your name.''
Tomorrow: The QLDC's moves to help create a safer