'Relatively trouble-free'

Antisocial behaviour during the Blossom Festival weekend continues to drop and the number of arrests this year was the lowest for 16 years.

Central Otago police area supervisor Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk was pleased with a "relatively trouble-free weekend".

Up until 3pm yesterday, 22 people had been arrested, compared with 24 last year and 78 in 2010. Those arrested were aged between 17 and 43 and only three were from Central Otago, he said.

They were arrested for offences "at the lower end of the scale", mostly offensive or disorderly behaviour, minor assaults or breaching the liquor ban. The majority received precharge warnings.

"Despite the large number of people coming into the area, and the vehicles on the road, we're pleased, from a policing point of view.

"Ninety-nine percent of people have been wonderful to deal with and the whole weekend there's been a family-friendly atmosphere, which is great.

"I hope the message has gone out that antisocial behaviour will not be tolerated."

Police numbers in Central Otago were boosted by 30 for the weekend, Snr Sgt Kerrisk said.

"Having such a visible police presence is all part of it, so families can enjoy themselves and feel safe."

Checkpoints were set up at Alexandra on Friday night and Roxburgh on Saturday and police joined forces with a New Zealand Transport Agency vehicle inspector.

Two vehicles stopped at Alexandra were "pink-stickered", meaning they had to be removed from the road, he said.

Six vehicles stopped at Alexandra and seven at Roxburgh were "green-stickered", which meant they could be driven back home but had defects which needed to be repaired and checked.

The action was in response to concerns in previous years about the safety of some of the vehicles travelling to the festival, Snr Sgt Kerrisk said.

"We stopped several hundred vehicles this year and, overall, most were safe, registered and warranted and had a sober driver, which was pleasing."

All motorists stopped had been breath-tested, including more than 500 people on their way to the Thunder Sunday drag racing, and all were below the legal blood or breath-alcohol limits.


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