Offences spur police warning

Liquor outlets have been warned to adhere to liquor laws after a spate of offences fuelled by alcohol in Oamaru.

Offences at the weekend included fighting, assaults, disorderly behaviour and vandalism, ranging from smashing letter boxes to breaking fences.

In all instances, excessive consumption of alcohol was involved, Acting Senior Sergeant Tony Woodbridge said yesterday.

That was becoming too common in Oamaru at weekends, and Sgt Woodbridge laid most of the blame on bars and nightclubs breaching liquor laws by allowing in, or continuing to serve, drunks.

Most offences occurred after liquor outlets were closed.

"Liquor premises need to take more notice and check the level of intoxication on their premises.

"The level of intoxication is too high," he warned.

Outlets faced fines of up to $10,000 for breaching liquor laws, and managers and licence holders faced prosecution.

In addition, police could take action through the Liquor Licensing Authority, suspending licences or asking for reviews.

"Liquor outlets have a social responsibility to those who drink there and the community as a whole," Sgt Woodbridge said.

He pointed out police had been issuing warnings for some time to outlets in Oamaru about their responsibilities, but that did not appear to be working.

He also raised the problem at a recent Waitaki District Council meeting, suggesting things that could be done.

One was reviewing closing hours for outlets, which had been suggested in other centres.

"Even councillors are aware we have a problem," Sgt Woodbridge said.

At the weekend, no major problems occurred in relation to the Undie 500 rally, on its way to and returning from Dunedin.

There were two arrests, but most on the rally participants behaved responsibly while in Oamaru, he said.

"The biggest problem [at the weekend] was with locals."