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Police Blitz On Drunken Violence

Operation Unite: A Police Blitz On Drunken Violence

Police commissioners from across Australia and New Zealand gathered in Perth today for the launch of a united stand against drunken violence.

Police in New Zealand will be highlighting the work they do to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime and antisocial behaviour during the blitz on the weekend of the 11th and 12th of December. The crackdown - codenamed Operation Unite - will be a first of kind, comprehensive and coordinated action by police forces in all states and jurisdictions.

It will demonstrate the united resolve of commissioners to change Australia and New Zealand’s culture of binge drinking in public places, and challenge the drinking public to take greater responsibility for their conduct.

The commissioners believe that enforcement can only ever be one part of the solution – and that further actions are needed from a range of stakeholders if we are to successfully confront the causes and problems associated with alcohol misuse.

Announcing the initiative at a meeting in Perth this morning, the commissioners warned that police have 'had enough' of dealing with Australia and New Zealand's dangerous culture of binge drinking in public places.

Commissioner Howard Broad said alcohol is a major driver of problems police have to confront.

"Alcohol, particularly in combination with drugs, impacts on many aspects of policing, including violent offending, homicides, drink driving, family violence incidents, accommodating intoxicated people in police cells and incidents or offending involving young people.

"While legislation and enforcement are key to, changing the drinking culture is crucial.

"The 'drink to get drunk’ culture cannot continue, or become the norm, and that is why we are taking decisive action. While we cannot arrest our way out of this problem, we agree there is a need for stronger policing."

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland agreed: “In addition to stronger enforcement, we acknowledge that there is a need for cultural change and better licensing regulations.

"We all share the belief that more can, and must, be done to tackle the dangerous binge drinking culture which has developed among our younger generations.

“Alcohol fuelled violence is one of the most pressing social challenges of our time. No state or territory is immune to this problem. It is costing us millions of dollars each year and shattering many, many young lives."

Commissioner Broad said the crackdown was making people safer and more secure and sending a clear message that enough is enough. "We are not out to curb the enjoyment but instead tackle this problem with a heightened sense of commitment and urgency.

“All the Commissioners firmly believe that it is not just a case of stopping the violence. We need to find out why it is happening in the first place and start looking at the long term issues to ensure that these factors don’t influence future generations.”

Notes to editors: Logo In New Zealand the total crime cost due to harmful alcohol and drug use is estimated at $1.1 billion. This includes costs to the victims of crime, the use of police resources, court related costs and prison. The total social cost of harmful alcohol and drug misuse for the year 05/06 was estimated at $6.881 billion. Harmful alcohol use cost New Zealand an estimated $5.296 billion in 05/06. It is estimated that police spent $306.3m or 32% of the police budget on Alcohol and drug related offending / issues in 05/06. On alcohol only, this equalled 172.2m, 18 % of the police budget. At least a third of all police recorded offences in 07/08 were committed where the offender had consumed alcohol prior to committing the offence. At least a third of recorded violence offences and family violence incidents in 07/08 were committed where the offender had consumed alcohol prior to committing the offence. With regards to serious offending, such as homicides and incidents where force was used by police, approximately half of the alleged offenders or victims were affected by alcohol. On an average day: • 62 individuals are either driven home or detained in police custody due to their state of intoxication. • 342 offences occur where police note alcohol was involved in the offending including: 30 offences for breach of a councils liquor ban 100 offences for drink driving Approximately 5,923 compulsory breath tests and 2743 mobile breath tests are undertaken 41 licensed premises are visited to monitor compliance with the Sale of Liquor Act.

In Australia, alcohol-related crime is estimated to cost AUD $1.7billion a year, with AUD $750m alone spent on policing. Alcohol-related harm is a major cause of death and hospitalisation, with 3000 lives lost a year and 65,000 hospitalisations. Forty percent of people detained by police attribute their offence to alcohol consumption. A substantial proportion of assaults are alcohol-related with a significant number of hospitalisations each year associated with these assaults.


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