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Secondary pupils can hold their after-ball parties in Dunedin as long as they are not on licensed premises and they follow a strict set of guidelines, authorities say.
Dunedin City Council liquor licensing and projects officer Kevin Mechan said a bar, hotel or nightclub's normal licence usually included a designation prohibiting anyone under 18, unless they were with a parent or legal guardian.
Until this year, venues wanting to host an after-ball party had to request a special licence removing designations for the event.
These requests were usually accepted and would allow under-18s to be there without a parent or legal guardian, but drink only alcohol their parents had provided for them.
However, following a 2009 Liquor Licensing Authority decision that an after-ball party at an Invercargill licensed premises breached the Sale of Liquor Act, the district licensing agency and the police no longer agreed to such requests.
It was tested last week after a parent contacted the agency about a party planned for King's High School pupils at nightclub Sammy's.
In response, agency inspector Tony Mole informed Sammy's that the nightclub risked breaching the Act if it continued with the party.
In the case of most sports clubs or other venues, for example racecourses or the Edgar Centre, a special licence was probably not required as long as alcohol was not being sold and the centre or club was just providing the venue, not the alcohol, Mr Mechan said.
As long as people followed the Alcohol Advisory Council guidelines for running parties, they should not have any problems.
Concerns about access to alcohol have been highlighted after Auckland police confiscated alcohol from one after-ball party.
People had bought tickets, the price of which included an unlimited supply of alcohol.
Including alcohol in the ticket price was sale and supply to minors, Mr Mechan said.
At the weekend, Manukau police said they would follow ball-goers to parties and confiscate alcohol illegally provided.
But Dunedin liquor licensing Sergeant Neil Kettings said he did not expect anything like that would happen in Dunedin, where ball season is in full swing, because there did not seem to be the same issues with the illegal sale of alcohol.
If police did hear about an after-ball party they would visit it to ensure that it was safe and legal, and encouraged organisers of any such party to closely follow guidelines so they were not breaking the law.
Party safety tips
• Choose a venue carefully.
• Engage security.
• Pre-sell limited tickets.
• No pass-outs.
• Ban anyone who appears affected by alcohol.
• Arrange transport to/from venue.
• Provide food and non-alcoholic drink.
• Limit quantity and type of alcohol.
Source: Alac guidelines