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Reduction in violence follows alcohol "class"

MEDIA RELEASE - ALCOHOL ADVISORY COUNCIL

For immediate use
4 April 2008
1pm

Reduction in violence follows “class” in managing alcohol at local pub

An innovative workshop last December about the dangers of hazardous drinking has led to a drop in fighting and disorder in and around the tavern where it was held.

The manager of a Crime Prevention Unit project to curb alcohol-related violence told the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) conference in Rotorua today that the unusual seminar, held at the Colonial Tavern in Owhata, has resulted in a decline in violence and other alcohol-related crime in the area.

Emma Redaelli told the conference delegates that she joined Rotorua Police and Toi Te Ora-Public Health officials as well as the regional manager of the Hospitality Association of New Zealand (HANZ) in talking to the crowd gathered at the pub for after-work Friday night drinks.

“We called the workshop ‘Look after your locals’ to indicate that irresponsible drinking has an impact on the environment, on friends and on family.  We wanted to talk about those impacts, rather than wave the big stick and lecture them.  We handed around nibbles and free raffle tickets, and that gave us personal contact with everyone – even the drinkers who, at the start, didn’t appear happy at us being there!”

Mrs Redaelli said the patrons were particularly interested in the police breath testing machine.  “The police officer didn’t lecture them on drink driving and its penalties.  Instead he explained the technical side of how breath testing works, how many drinks it takes to go over the limit, and what levels the officers are looking for.  He then explained how the process unfolds if someone is over the limit.  The crowd was able to have a demonstration with the machine as well.”

Toi Te Ora-Public Health representatives explained the link between heavy drinking and hazardous amounts of sodium and sugar in the body, and between drinking, diabetes and heart disease.  “That was a real eye-opener for them.  Many of the patrons were drinking ready to drink mixtures and didn’t realise that one can is more than a standard drink, or that a jug of beer can actually be four standard drinks.”

Mrs Redaelli told the conference she was delighted with the feedback at the end of the two-hour workshop.  “We got plenty of thank-yous for the night and a number of people said they hadn’t realised before they were probably over the limit when they drove.  We also felt the patrons appreciated the police were not just revenue-building in catching drunk motorists but saving lives.

“The key to the success of the night was that it was local.  We were able to relate issues, which people already knew about but in a vague way, to their neighbourhood.  We talked about the drinks they were drinking that night, they could speak to police officers they had seen around their area, and they learned about the alcohol-related domestic violence in their suburb.  That made it much more relevant to them.”

Mrs Redaelli said since the information night, alcohol-linked crime in the area has dropped, and the hotel licensee wants the “Look after your locals” workshop to be held in other pubs around Rotorua. 

“When we turned up, about half the pub’s patrons had their backs to us and made it clear they did not want us there, but eventually all of them turned around and listened. We were very satisfied really,” Mrs Redaelli said.

ends

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