Police question assumptions in industry report

Andrew Coster
Andrew Coster
Otago's top policeman has slammed an industry-commissioned economic impact report on Dunedin's draft local alcohol policy (Lap) as flawed and misleading.

Inducement claim riles bar owners

Superintendent Andrew Coster said yesterday the report from Insight Economics used a narrow sample of statistics, out of context, to suit its purpose.

The biggest issue was the flawed assumption people would not adapt to changes in bar hours, when reducing on-licence hours would most likely mean more spending at bars because there was less time to pre-load.

The method used to estimate the cost of reduced hours to the region - estimated to be $2.8 million - was also ''far from transparent'' and questionable.

''In essence, the report suggests some very large financial impacts without adequately substantiating them, even if all the other flawed assumptions it contains are overlooked.''

He said the report quoted crime statistics from August to argue blanket changes made to trading hours in December had not worked, when in fact year on year there was an almost 9% reduction in public violence.

It did not refer to a 20% drop in police calls to the central city area since December compared with the corresponding period the previous year.

The report used statistics that minimised the harm of late night drinking, despite a Ministry of Justice study showing premises with 3am to 5am closing times had a nine times higher risk of offences coming from them than a bar closing at midnight.

It also said a small proportion of offences happened in bars, but that was ''exactly the point''.

''They are able to control these people when they are in the bars, but they put them out on the footpath and that's when they [offend],'' he said.

The report attempted to place responsibility for alcohol-related harm on to off-licences, and no-one was disputing the issue was problematic, but there were few ways a Lap could help that.

Insight Economics managing director Fraser Colegrave said the company had done the report three times, the first time in-depth for the Christchurch City Council and then for the Auckland industry.

All had similar findings as the Dunedin report.

''It's the same story, same theme. I stand behind everything I've said.''

While police and district health boards saw the worst of alcohol-related crime, in reality the available data showed overwhelmingly the majority of late night bar drinkers were not the problem, which was not what some councils wanted to hear.

''I would never sacrifice our reputation for one job to be a yes man to industry,'' he said.

 

 

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