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Alcohol Accord dramatic effect lowering violence

MEDIA RELEASE DECEMBER 2006


Alcohol Accord has dramatic effect on lowering violence

Early indications are Christchurch’s Central City Alcohol Accord is having a dramatic effect on reducing alcohol-related crime and violence in the inner city.

Introduced on October 5, the Accord is designed to stop the migration of alcohol-affected individuals and groups between bars and areas within the central city which had resulted in a disproportionately high rate of serious offending such as common assaults and sexual assaults.

Christchurch Central Police Station Area Commander Inspector Gary Knowles says the incidents of violence are down as a result of the Alcohol Accord but he is cautiously optimistic with only eight weeks of the six-month trial having been completed.

“Violence is trending down which is what the Accord was designed to achieve. Early indications are it is having a dramatic effect on violence,” he says.

More than 45 bars in the central business district have formed an Alcohol Accord, in partnership with the Christchurch City Council, New Zealand Police, Community and Public Health, a division of the Canterbury District Health Board, and HANZ.

The first initiative under the Accord is the one-way door policy. From 4am, no new patrons will be admitted to any of these bars and patrons who leave the premises will not be re-admitted.

Inspector Knowles says breaches of the liquor ban and disorderly conduct are up as Police work focuses on preventing the spike in violence that has traditionally occurred between 4am and 6am.
He says by apprehending people for disorderly conduct or breaches of the liquor ban early in the evening, the Police are stopping them from being the victim of a serious assault or becoming an offender later in the evening.

Results from the independent evaluation of the Accord show a 89% rise in liquor offences, compared with 2005.

Inspector Knowles praised the new environment that had evolved with Police and bar owners working together to help create a safer inner city and prosperous night-time economy.

He hopes at the end of the six-month trial the positive impact will mean everyone will want to keep the Alcohol Accord operational and explore new ways to further reduce inner city crime and violence.

Peter Morrison, Chairman of the Central Business District Alcohol Accord Management Committee says for licensees the Alcohol Accord is helping to reduce crime and having minimal impact on their businesses.

“Impact on turnover had been a concern but it is reported that turnover has remained average for the time of the year. This is good; as is the positive effect increased policing is having in the central city.

“With everyone working together, we are creating an inner city that is a safer place for residents, visitors and tourists to enjoy Christchurch’s warm hospitality without any fear.”

Mr Morrison says it is pleasing at this early stage that the majority of licensees believe the Accord should continue after the six-month trial. “This is fantastic. It shows strong acceptance of the joint responsibility to reduce violence and crime in the central business district.”

Another positive impact, he says is patrons are coming into the bars earlier.

Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore says the early results were great for Christchurch, going a long way to helping make Christchurch New Zealand’s safest city.

“To see such positive results after only two months is encouraging for the city as it works to achieve World Health Organisation Safe Community accreditation.

“Under the Safer Christchurch Safety we are working to make Christchurch the safest city to live, work, play and learn. The Alcohol Accord is an important initiative to help achieve this status.”


ENDS

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