Police fight to keep their bars licence-free

Police need their own bars so they are not hassled by the public when they socialise, their union says.

The Sunday Star-Times today reported that the Fire Service, Defence Force and Police Association had made submissions seeking to retain their ability to serve alcohol at their premises without a licence following a Law Commission discussion document on liquor law reform.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad said police would not object to the exemption being removed but the Police Association that would be of "considerable concern".

Association president Greg O'Connor said it was essential for officers to have somewhere they could relax and socialise with their workmates without being used as "bait" by the public.

There have been incidents involving officers after drinking at police bars, including one last year when a police recruit was convicted of assault after hitting another recruit with a bottle in a police bar.

Defence and fire service bars have also had problems.

Defence boss Lieutenant-General Jerry Mateparae said in his submission that commanding officers used their powers to control the sale, supply and consumption of liquor and that the Defence Force "mess" was much more like a home than a bar.

The Fire Service Commission made a submission with the United Fire Brigades Association that such bars were one of the "few tangible benefits" for volunteer firefighters and helped create a "strong and vibrant volunteer movement".

Law Commission president Sir Geoffrey Palmer told the newspaper that no one was above the law and it was difficult to justify the different treatment.

Sir Geoffrey said the police could simply get a club licence for their bars, and the Fire Service and Defence Force may each be able to get one licence for all their canteens or messes.

Sir Geoffrey will put his findings, which will take into account the submissions, before Parliament this month.


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