Police want liquor ban extended

Police pressure for a liquor ban covering the student quarter could see further investigation of the long-debated proposal.

On Tuesday, Dunedin police area commander Inspector Dave Campbell sent a letter to the Dunedin City Council asking for the issue to be publicly debated, at least the third time he has raised the matter.

The proposal will come before the council's planning and environment committee on Monday, with a staff report recommending the request be investigated.

Committee chairman Cr Michael Guest said yesterday that he had allowed the matter on to the agenda, but had ‘‘real misgivings'' about it.

The idea of an extension to the liquor ban was raised in 2006, after Insp Campbell originally requested the liquor bylaw covering the inner city area be extended, and he again tabled the letter at a city leaders forum in January this year.

But consultation with Fire Service, University of Otago and student bodies indicated the idea might be premature, and the university's Campus Watch programme should be given time to prove itself.

The city's safety officers were also introduced in November that year.

The report's writer, council liquor licensing and projects officer Kevin Mechen, wrote Campus Watch had been successful during its 12-month term, but ‘‘police statistics show the number of alcohol-related offending in North Dunedin generally is still increasing''.

Insp Campbell said in his letter there was a reduction in street fires in 2007, but ‘‘a high level of damage and disorder'' continued in the suburb.

‘‘Public-place drinking causes fires, assaults, wilful damage and disorder in North Dunedin. The behaviour witnessed in the student quarter would not be tolerated in other parts of the city, so why here? This is a matter that should be publicly debated.''

When Insp Campbell originally asked the council to consider a ban in North Dunedin in 2006, Cr Guest did not support the idea. Yesterday, he said he had not changed his mind.

‘‘It's too much of an intrusion.''

If it was investigated, stakeholders would be consulted, and he expected the issue would come back before the committee within two months.

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