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Booze blitz shows message getting through

Booze blitz shows message getting through

December 16, 2005

It was almost the perfect Christmas present for the authorities responsible for stamping out the sale of alcohol to minors.

In a joint initiative between the North Shore City Council and Police, 20 liquor stores chosen at random across the city were this week visited by a 17-year-old student asking to buy alcohol.

Nineteen of the 20 premises passed the test by refusing to serve the minor, a 95 per cent success rate that has encouraged the local police and council.

North Shore City ' s liquor licensing officer, Peter Richardson, says Monday ' s exercise not only tested the liquor stores ' compliance with the law, it also measured the effectiveness of his own education campaign.

Over the past four months, Mr Richardson and Constable Bryce Law visited more than 100 premises to explain the Sale of Liquor Act and seek industry support for a concerted effort to curb under-age drinking.

" This latest exercise was the first one that we ran jointly, and it ' s brought the best result so far, " he says.

Back in mid-July, four out of 15 premises broke the law by serving an under-age student posing as a customer. The 27 per cent failure rate alarmed the authorities.

North Shore City Mayor and former Police area commander, George Wood, has a strong message for liquor vendors and parents alike.

" Don ' t sell to under-age kids - it ' s illegal and you will get caught and fined.

" Parents, on the other hand, may not be breaking the law by giving their own children alcohol but they should definitely think better of it.

" It ' s sad to see young people get into situations where they put their own and their mates ' safety and lives in jeopardy. Alcohol can bring out the dark side of human frailty and, unfortunately, some young people don ' t have the ability to control themselves.

" In my 32 years in the police, I ' ve seen the sad consequences of alcohol-fuelled accidents and it ' s a gut-wrenching part of the job, " says the father of three and grandfather of two.

" Breaking the law can lead to broken bones and broken hearts. We must break the cycle, " says George Wood.

Using the words of a hard-hitting advertising campaign called Think, Consequences, Peter Richardson has a sobering warning for parents: " If you choose to supply your under-18s with alcohol then you ' re responsible for the consequences. "

Mr Richardson says the sight of children hanging around outside off-licences, successfully encouraging passers-by to buy alcohol for them, appals him.

" It ' s very common sadly, and it ' s also illegal. Anyone caught buying booze for minors can be fined $2000 and face more serious charges if the blood ' s on their hands. "

The council ' s Safe Summer campaign brings together Party Safe and various other important messages about the many things people can do to keep themselves, their family and community safe.

More information is available at www.northshorecity.govt.nz, from all council area offices, libraries and environmental services building - 521 Lake Rd, Takapuna, or by calling North Shore City Actionline on 486 8600.

For legal reasons the liquor outlet which failed the latest test - for second time this year - will not be named while a prosecution is pending. It is understood that the business is up for sale and will be under new management.

In 2004, North Shore City Council and North Shore Police signed a Memorandum of Understanding - a formal commitment to work with each other.


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