Liquor stings detail range of breaches

Under-age liquor sales stings in Mosgiel and Dunedin - April-October 2011. <i>ODT</i> Graphic.
Under-age liquor sales stings in Mosgiel and Dunedin - April-October 2011. <i>ODT</i> Graphic.
Seven Dunedin and Mosgiel liquor licences or business operations were suspended this year after employees sold alcohol to people as young as 15 in a series of undercover police stings.

Another three licence holders also face suspension.

Under the watchful eye of police, nine underage volunteers tried to buy alcohol at 113 licensed premises, eight sports events and three events with special liquor licences for the Rugby World Cup between April and October.

The controlled purchase operations were part of a special project organised by the Dunedin Alcohol Partnership.

Ian Paulin
Ian Paulin
Dunedin police acting liquor licensing sergeant Ian Paulin said the project meant that for the first time in years, police were able to run an undercover operation at every off-licence, including all supermarkets and licensed bars in Dunedin and Mosgiel.

In a usual year, there might be three or four controlled purchase operations in Dunedin, with about 30 premises visited in total.

This year, 17 operations were carried out, and some bars police had information might be higher risk were visited more than once.

Nine on-licences, two off-licences (including one supermarket), one company supplying alcohol at a sports event and one company holding a special event during the RWC sold alcohol to a minor.

All those who sold the alcohol were given a police diversion, while the Liquor Licensing Authority suspended the manager's certificates of the duty managers at the time, and the liquor licence of the premises for 24 hours.

One company appeared in the Dunedin District Court after it breached a a special liquor licence by selling alcohol to a minor during the RWC.

It was suspended from trading for two days.

Another company avoided suspension by reaching an agreement with the Alcohol Partnership, which consists of the Dunedin City Council, Dunedin police, ACC and Public Health South, to hold a luncheon for charity volunteers instead.

Three other licensees are still before the Liquor Licensing Authority.

Eight sports events, two at Carisbrook, two at Forsyth Barr Stadium and the four RWC games were tested, while three special events around the RWC were also tested.

Const Paulin said the about 10% failure rate was not unexpected, but still disappointing.

It had been a good exercise, though, and the results had shown similarities in the failure cases that would be used to educate licensees.

In most scenarios where a minor had been sold alcohol, the person selling the alcohol was young or inexperienced, the store, bar or event was busy and an assumption was made that the person was 18 or older.

The project took advantage of some government funding, made available last year, that made it possible to hire someone to work 10 hours a week on it.

It would not be run again next year, but Const Paulin hoped it would be carried out again in the future.


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