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Are The Drinking Laws Being Enforced?

The Government needs to immediately investigate whether the existing drinking laws are being adequately enforced, National's Justice spokesman Wayne Mapp said today.

Dr Mapp is calling on the Government to disclose whether sufficient attention is being paid to enforcing the drinking age of 18.

"The Government is rushing headlong into a review on shifting the drinking age back up to 20. But everyone I have spoken to, including Police and local liquor licensing inspectors, says there are no problems in bars and cafes.

"The real problem is that underage youths consume large amounts of alcohol in situations which are inadequately controlled, such as at wild parties, or in unsupervised locations such as beaches and parks. What is happening to the pubs and off-licences which sell alcohol to those youths? If the law was being enforced we would see licence holders being prosecuted and underage-drinkers being convicted. But we are not.

"Special attention must be paid to ensuring the law is enforced in these sort of situations, including giving local authorities more teeth to enforce liquor bans.

"Ultimately the duty for ensuring the law is enforced lies with the Government. They must show that Police are being adequately resourced to enforce the law, and that licensees are being adequately punished if they fail in their duty to enforce the law.

"When MPs voted on the drinking age they did so in a conscience vote. They had a clear understanding that if the drinking age was lowered then ID cards would be required and licensees would face stiff penalties for breaking the law, including seven-day closures of premises which sold alcohol to underagers.

"The Government must now demonstrate that the law is being adequately enforced. It would be a sorry state of affairs if the Government ended up reversing a law change simply because they have not provided Police with adequate resources to enforce the law," Dr Mapp said.


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