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Uniting against alcohol fuelled violence

Police, health and community unite against alcohol fuelled violence

For police and health professionals, cleaning up the mess caused by alcohol-fuelled violence is a daily reality.

This Christmas, health professionals and community organisations across Australia and New Zealand have joined with police in support of Operation Unite, a blitz on drunken violence.

A range of organisations, including the Alcohol and Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA), Alcohol Liquor Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC), the Alcohol and Rehabilitation Foundation (AERF), the National Alliance for Action on Alcohol (NAAA) and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons are speaking out in support of police about the impact drunken violence has on family and the community.

Spokesperson for Operation Unite, New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, commends the health and community sector for supporting the ongoing police activity.

“This operation is not about restricting the public from going out and having a good time, but about promoting a message that we all have to think about our behaviour and that of our mates and consider the impact it may have long after the night is over,” says Mr Scipione.

Police, health and community sector will continue to have an important role in dealing with the alcohol problem. The social, financial and health costs associated with alcohol misuse are an ongoing concern for police and society at large. Research has put the total economic impact of alcohol misuse for New Zealand at $5.3 billion per annum, which $4.5million per day.

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“We all carry the cost of alcohol-fuelled violence,” said ALAC Chief Executive Officer Gerard Vaughan. “We may be personally affected when we or one of our family suffers after being assaulted by a drunk or hit by a drunk driver. But we all pay the cost when we can’t access health services because they are overloaded dealing with drunks or when police can’t respond to calls because police resources have to be diverted because of drunken incidents.”

Mr Vaughan says Operation Unite is a whole of community approach to the issue and he congratulated police on the initiative.

”We cannot expect police to deal with this huge problem on their own. We all need to take some responsibility and play our part within our families and our communities,” says Mr Vaughan.

The combined Australia and New Zealand operation starts on Friday, 17 December 2010 and ends on Sunday, 19 December 2010.

However, National Alcohol Programme Manager, Inspector Tracy Patterson said that for New Zealand, the operation will launch a proactive focus on alcohol harm reduction over the festive period by police.


Crime and violence
The New Zealand Police estimate that:
approximately one-third of all Police apprehensions involve alcohol
half of serious violent crimes are related to alcohol
over 300 alcohol-related offences are committed every day
each day, 52 individuals or groups of people are either driven home or detained in Police custody because of intoxication

Drink driving
In 2008, driver alcohol/drugs was a contributing factor in:
103 fatal crashes,
441 serious injury crashes and;
1156 minor crashes
These crashes resulted in 119 deaths, 582 serious injuries and 1726 minor injuries

Social costs
Harmful alcohol use is estimated to cost New Zealand $4.9 billion in 2005/06
However, previous estimates have ranged from $735 million to $16.1 billion

Alcohol and Crime
At least 33% of all Police-recorded offences in 2008/09 were committed where the offender had consumed alcohol prior to committing the offence.
At least one-third of recorded violence offences and family violence incidents in 2007/08 were committed where the offender had consumed alcohol prior to committing the offence.
Approximately half of the homicides recorded from 1999 involved either a suspect or victim being under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident.

Road traffic crashes and death
People with a high blood alcohol level are more likely to be injured or killed in a crash than those who are sober.
For drivers involved in all fatal crashes in 2006–2008, 26% were recorded as having alcohol only and a further 2% as having both alcohol and drugs.
As the severity of crashes increases, so does the contribution of driver alcohol/drugs.
For every 100 alcohol or drug-impaired drivers or riders killed in road crashes, 54 of their passengers and 27 sober road users die with them.
In 2008, driver alcohol/drugs was a contributing factor in 103 fatal crashes, 441 serious injury crashes and 1156 minor crashes.
These crashes resulted in 119 deaths, 582 serious injuries and 1726 minor injuries.
Police estimate that each day in New Zealand, approximately 5923 compulsory breath tests and 2743 mobile breath tests are undertaken and 100 people are charged with drink driving

In New Zealand, estimates indicate that between 600 and 1000 people die each year from alcohol-related causes
More than half of alcohol-related deaths are due to injuries, one-quarter to cancer and one-quarter to other chronic diseases
Nearly one-fifth of all deaths for males and one-tenth of all deaths for females aged between 20 and 24 are attributable to alcohol use
Between 18 and 35% of injury-based emergency department presentations are estimated to be alcohol related rising to between 60 and 70% during the weekend
A recent study of falls in working adults (aged 25–60) found that approximately 20% of unintentional falls at home may be attributable to alcohol consumption
Alcohol is involved in half of the patients presenting with facial fractures
Approximately 45% of fire fatalities each year involve alcohol.
Approximately one-third of public pool drownings involve alcohol
In 2008, there were 10,290 primary alcohol diagnosis admissions to New Zealand hospitals.1
Approximately 23,000 people are treated in the publicly-funded health system each year for alcohol or other drug addictions
14% of the population are predicted to meet the criteria for a substance use disorder at some time in their lives

Please view the full news release online at:



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