Police get serious on drink

Alcohol harm reduction officer Tom Taylor, of Balclutha, stands next to alcohol confiscated by...
Alcohol harm reduction officer Tom Taylor, of Balclutha, stands next to alcohol confiscated by police at the weekend. Photo by Rachel Taylor.
Balclutha police seized hundreds of dollars worth of alcohol from 12 people in three cars, and issued fines to people found drinking inside the Balclutha liquor-ban area last weekend, in what was the beginning of an initiative by Senior Sergeant Richard Whitmore to address the assaults, disorderly behaviour and wilful damage caused by inebriated people.

Constable Chris Wakelin said the penalties for liquor-ban breaches in the Balclutha area would be heavily enforced by police in an effort to reduce alcohol-related crime, under-age drinking and binge drinking.

Last weekend, police were stopping vehicles in the liquor-ban area and targeting licensed premises, where they were checking ages and levels of alcohol consumed by patrons, Const Wakelin said.

While the bars were "pretty good", police confiscated "a massive amount" of alcohol from vehicles inside the liquor-ban area, he said.

The Clutha District Council passed a bylaw in 2008 making it illegal to consume alcohol anywhere on Clyde St (SH1), Charlotte and James Sts, Centennial Ave, Gordon, John, Elizabeth, Renfrew, Essex, Stevenson, Yarmouth and Lowestoft Sts, Athol Pl and Keach Lane.

"A difficult area is behind the toilets by the memorial hall.

People don't understand it is still a liquor ban area," Const Wakelin said.

Police issued a 21-year-old Balclutha woman and three youths with $200 infringement fines for breaching the liquor ban, while a 28-year-old Balclutha man was given a $200 infringement fine and charged with disorderly behaviour.

"This is not going to be treated lightly," Const Wakelin said.

"After this initial weekend, there will be court appearances."

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