Northland Controlled Purchase Operation
Tuesday October 22.
Last weekend the Whangärei District Council, Police and Northland District Health Board held a joint operation to test the host responsibility and compliance of licensed premises in Northland.
The operation involved volunteers and staff from the three organisations who entered premises to observe and test compliance with the Sale of Liquor Act.
In the Whangarei area 23 premises were checked, including 18 off-license premises and five on-license premises. Two (one off-license and one on-license) breached their licences, which will result in applications for suspension of their licences and managers certificates.
In the Far North Area 12 premises were checked, including seven off-license premises and five on-license premises. Two (one off-license and one on-license) also breached their licences, which will also result in applications for suspension of their licences and managers certificates
Breaches included sales to under-aged volunteers. Overall the compliance testing with premises was very positive with most premises providing a safe environment for patrons. Some premises need to make minor changes to how they do their business, such as supplying and promoting free drinking water in on-license premises. This will become a requirement in law with the change to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act which comes into effect December 18, 2013.
We find that most people are surprised to hear that licensed premises are required to provide at least three substantial types of food at any time that they are selling alcohol. The food should be actively promoted and of reasonable quality, at a reasonable price and within a reasonable time.
Licensed premises have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for patrons and staff. Allowing people to become intoxicated has a huge ripple effect on the family violence, assaults, road crashes and victimisation. As we approach the Christmas period it becomes even more important to ensure that alcohol is sold and served in a responsible manner.
It is timely to conduct these tests prior to the Christmas period, so that premises are reminded of their obligations. We will increase our integrity testing as we approach Christmas.
Compliance checks were done at the most problem premises and other better complying premises, so authorities could get a good cross section of premises. Agencies plan to work together over the Christmas period throughout Northland in various ways to ensure that premises provide a safe social drinking culture.
Police will be making applications for suspension to the Alcohol Regulatory Licensing Authority. Failure for the first time to provide food or a sale to a minor usually results in a 24-hour suspension for the premises and about a two week suspension for the duty manager. Breaches such as these can be a costly mistake for premises, but should serve as an incentive to get things right in the future.