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Call For Zero Tolerance Of Alcohol Abuse

Media release 3 March 2004

CALL FOR ZERO TOLERANCE OF ALCOHOL ABUSE

A large number of people have taken part in public consultation on Manukau City Council's proposed liquor bans, which deal with restrictions on drinking alcohol in public places such as beaches.

420 written submissions were received on the proposal, with 407 supporting it. The majority of submitters also sought to extend the controls further than the areas proposed. Verbal submissions will be presented at hearings later this month. All comment and feedback will help shape the Council's final strategy.

Mayor Sir Barry Curtis says the message from the community is clear and backs up the Council's new hard line stance.

"People have had enough of drunkenness ruining public places such as beaches and town centres. Liquor bans will be another tool in our strategy to stop the social damage that drunkenness and alcohol-fuelled violence is causing.

"We are taking this issue very seriously because it is costing the city a lot to clean up the damage, as well as affecting the quality of life for our residents. How much longer does the Council have to spend thousands of dollars a year on picking up broken glass from children's playgrounds and parks?

"I would like to see a complete turnaround in New Zealand's attitude to alcohol misuse. There should be zero tolerance for intoxication. Getting trashed in public has to stop and there needs to be serious consequences.

"I understand there's to be a national campaign starting soon aimed at changing the kiwi culture of tolerating boozing, and I will fully support it. Changing that mindset is as important as changing attitudes to drunk driving or smoking or domestic abuse, which are no longer considered acceptable.

"The damage bill from drunkenness is huge. One recent economic analysis found it cost the country $14 billion per year. It is a factor in many crimes such as assault and domestic violence, vandalism and tagging. Drunk people cause road accidents and end up in emergency wards seeking costly medical treatment for their self-induced injuries.

"It is also a safety issue. Our town centres see too many drunken youths and are sometimes dangerous. Why should people be afraid of walking in their local shopping centre for fear of running a gauntlet of abuse and broken bottles?

"The Police are sick and tired of dealing with the stupid behaviour of drunks and the problem goes right across society. Teenagers from wealthy Howick families are as likely to cause as many problems as youth from Mangere.

"A big part of the problem is very young people getting easy access to alcohol through friends and family over the age of 18 as well as liquor stores. This is a new phenomenon. We can't stop young people taking risks but we can make it harder for them to get alcohol, which has become more easily available in recent years.

"Recently the Council has been requested by retailers to issue 24 hour licenses, which I do not support because it simply makes a bad situation worse. Why would someone need to buy wine at 4 o'clock in the morning?"

The alcohol strategy is one part of a broad approach to clamp down on alcohol abuse which the Council is adopting and which will assist the Police's commitment to tackling drunkenness.

Other elements of the Council's new approach to alcohol abuse include:

- liquor bans

- supporting community projects to help those residents to address their own alcohol-abuse related issues

- establishing a safety committee, which will focus on reducing alcohol abuse in Manukau.

- installing security cameras in areas of high concern such as shopping centres

- community education about responsible drinking and the negative social effects of alcohol abuse

Sir Barry says liquor bans are of limited value unless they are enforced and he is pleased that Counties Manukau police are ensuring the bans are enforced. "We're supporting the Police to the hilt on this."

ENDS

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