Hopes police will deter bad behaviour

There are concerns young people will move their disruptive behaviour to areas other than Loch Laird this weekend.

Gary Kircher. Photo: ODT
Gary Kircher. Photo: ODT
A strong police presence in the Waitaki Valley should help deter the issue, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said.

Waitaki police and a large number of officers from Dunedin would be visible in the Otematata area and where the liquor ban had been implemented for this weekend, he said.

The ban for this weekend was brought in by the Waitaki District Council in August in a bid to resolve issues created by alcohol-fuelled behaviour by young people at the Loch Laird campsite.

At an additional council meeting last month, councillors agreed to extend the ban further along Loch Laird Rd following a request from police.

Asked if there were concerns people could move to another area, Mr Kircher said ‘‘there are’’.

‘‘But that’s also remediated by the presence of police, who will still keep an eye on things wherever they are,’’ Mr Kircher said.

‘‘We’ll see how it all goes, and hopefully Labour Weekend is a time where everyone can get together safely both from a Covid and a personal safety point of view.’’

Parents also needed to play their part. Speaking to their children about their responsibilities was not ‘‘uncool’’, it was about education and keeping them safe, whether they were at Loch Laird or elsewhere.

‘‘It’s just about being aware of where your kids are, who they’re with and what they’re up to. That’s something that’s an age-old issue and something that is as relevant as ever.

Sending them to ‘‘party-type situations’’ without discussions, expectations or safety measures was not good enough, Mr Kircher said.

‘‘[It’s] making sure that your child is going to be safe and if they get into a situation that isn’t safe, they know exactly how they can get the help that they need.’’

Sergeant Blair Wilkinson, of Oamaru, said parents also had a responsibility to be aware of the behaviour exhibited at Loch Laird.

‘‘Police would encourage parents to communicate with their teenagers if they’re intending on holidaying up there and just make sure they have a clear understanding of what their intentions are,’’ Sgt Wilkinson said.

‘‘And for parents to be aware — it’s just not acceptable to be dropping young people off with alcohol in an unsupervised environment.’’

The liquor ban would ‘‘significantly reduce the risk of alcohol-related harm’’, he said.

For decades, young people have attended an unofficial Labour Weekend event, allegedly being dropped off with alcohol, and have caused problems ranging from drink-driving and broken glass to property damage and disorderly behaviour.

kayla.hodge@odt.co.nz

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