Liquor ban prevents further offending

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Oamaru’s liquor ban is successful in preventing further offending from intoxicated young people, says Helen Algar, the Safer Waitaki project co-ordinator and Waitaki District Council community safety and development facilitator.

The liquor ban was put in place by the Waitaki District Council in 2009 and operates 24/7 throughout most of central Oamaru.

Mrs Algar said instances like Wednesday night’s TV One Highway Cops arrest of several intoxicated youths in Oamaru could have escalated had the liquor ban and other community safety initiatives not been in place.

“It has been very effective and has changed the landscape quite significantly,” she said.

“The feedback I have had is that it has made a significant difference to the behaviour and alcohol consumption of people in the CBD.”

Binge-drinking was a problem in all communities, but in Oamaru, people were generally well-behaved and would dispose of their alcohol once they had been told about the ban, she said.

“I actually think this community is amazing.

“Ninety per cent of breaches in the area are easily managed.”

The liquor ban and other community safety initiatives allowed any potentially risky scenarios to be prevented early on, Mrs Algar said.

The Waitaki Safer Communities Trust youth coalition had been running educational programmes and activities about the risks of alcohol and drug-related harm, she said.

Oamaru Police Senior Sergeant Jason McCoy said people were regularly arrested for breaches of the liquor ban, which had generally prevented further offending.

“The liquor ban is an effective legislation to ensure people affected by alcohol don’t commit public disorder and minor damage within the community.”

He said if someone was drinking in a liquor ban area, they would be dealt with, whether with a warning, an infringement notice, or an arrest.

By RUBY HARFIELD