Police on alert as partying students return

Flo week and O Week events events are due to return after years of Covid restrictions. File photo...
Flo week and O Week events events are due to return after years of Covid restrictions. File photo: ODT
Police are preparing for the first real orientation week since Covid-19 began after years of restricted events.

Next week North Dunedin will come alive with partying University of Otago students celebrating Flo Week and O Week, the two weeks before classes begin.

Senior Sergeant Anthony Bond, of Dunedin, said police were gearing up for a busy two days with an increased police presence around the university.

It is the first real O-week for three years, as Covid-19 restrictions had kept people in lockdown or put limits on how many could be at a venue together.

There were many initiatives to help minimize harm across the fortnight, Snr Sgt Bond said.

The CANpaign encourages students to avoid buying alcohol in glass bottles to reduce the amount of broken glass in streets.

It is being run alongside the Otago University Students Association (Ousa), the university, the Dunedin City Council and off license premises.

Liquor stores are arranging their stores with canned beverages at the front and bottles at the back.

Flats can register upcoming parties with the Good One party register, which gives police a heads-up about the event in case anything goes wrong.

Police will visit party hosts prior to the event to educate and build a relationship in case any problems occur.

The Safer Nights programme is focused on engaging with students to push health promotion and decision making around alcohol and other drugs.

Police will also be at Tent City, an event which hosts pop-up stalls during O Week.

There is also Red Light, which focuses on building awareness around uncomfortable situations that occur in licensed premises, such as sexual assault, harassment and disorder.

At certain venues anyone who feels uncomfortable can order a "red light" drink at the bar.

This lets staff know they need help so they can respond and ensure the safety of the patron, whether it be a need to get home or a call to police.

A list of licensed premises involved can be found on Red Light social media pages, Snr Sgt Bond said.

Almost 100 premises throughout the Southern District have signed up.

It was a busy time for officers, with lots of time spent on their feet and countless selfie requests, but in general police looked forward to it, he said.