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New strategy to reduce violence in Dunedin

MEDIA RELEASE - ALCOHOL ADVISORY COUNCIL

New strategy to reduce violence in Dunedin is making CBD safe
Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC)

A seven-week-old trial to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence in the centre of Dunedin has paid off already, the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) conference in Rotorua was told today.

Dunedin police senior liquor licensing officer Wayne Pitcaithly told the conference that a four-year study had found violent incidents in the city centre were becoming more frequent and more severe.

“We have increasing numbers of unprovoked attacks on people later and later in the night, some as late – or as early – as 6 in the morning,” he told the delegates.

“In the centre of Dunedin there are 52 licensees who can trade 24 hours - although only about 10 do - but that is enough to encourage bar hopping with the Octagon a general congregating spot for a mixture of groups.”

Wayne Pitcaithly said the District Licensing Authority, Public Health South and the Police, which make up the Dunedin Alcohol Partnership, teamed up with ACC for the trial. The partnership aims to reduce alcohol-related violence and injuries in the city centre.

“Following the success of the one-way door accord in Christchurch, since mid-February we have asked licensees to stop anyone entering a pub after 4am. That stops the very late-night drinker migrating from pub to pub, and causing problems as they go.

“The second part of the strategy is to put on buses to take people home at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30am. We lack taxis in the city centre late at night. Cabbies either don’t want to work that late, or in that area. People sometimes wait at taxi ranks for more than an hour, and the frustration from that can lead to conflict.

“The $5 bus service has proved popular because to take a taxi out to a place like Mosgiel can cost up to $50.”

Wayne Pitcaithly told the conference that the results of the trial so far have been promising with fewer people out on the streets very late at night and less alcohol-fuelled violence.

“We think people are behaving themselves a bit better, because they know if they get thrown out of a bar, they won’t get into another if it’s past 4am.”

Sergeant Pitcaithly said the police are keen to wind the one-way door accord back to 3am, but says some of the licensees might take a bit of persuading.

He said the Dunedin Alcohol Partnership and licensees will get together at the end of the trial to discuss making the one-way door accord and provision of the “get home” bus a permanent fixture, if funding can be found.

He told the conference the behaviour of drinkers returning home on the bus had been surprisingly quiet. “We have security guards at the bus ranks and on the buses themselves to keep order, but the behaviour of the drinkers on the buses has been so good, we are going to be able to wind that security detail down!”

ENDS

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