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Friday, May 13, 2011

Police target drinking culture

Police target drinking culture

GILES BROWN
Last updated 05:00 13/05/2011
 
Only "baby steps" can be taken to change Christchurch's heavy-drinking culture, police say.

A trans-Tasman police operation will target alcohol abuse and seek to educate the public tonight and tomorrow.

Canterbury police operations manager Inspector Craig McKay said extra officers would crack down on drink-drivers and target "the new Strip" in Riccarton and other suburbs.

He said they would enforce liquor bans and visit busy bars and house parties.

Young people would be persuaded to avoid "pre-loading" with alcohol and to look after their mates, he said.

"It seems to be so routine these days. Young guys are pre-loading and drinking so much, and that's where the culture is wrong," he said.

"There's a massive educational part of this weekend along the lines of changing the culture. It's about getting around the idea that you drink to get drunk.

"To be honest, it's baby steps, and we realise that."

The drinking problem in Christchurch had been exacerbated by the earthquakes, he said.

"People are using alcohol as a stress mechanism, which is leading to an increase in alcohol harm that goes back to the home as well."

As suburban bars filled, people were going to parties with hundreds of guests.

"All you need is one fight in the middle of a dozen drunk people and suddenly you've got disorder," he said.

Officers in New Zealand and Australia will conduct the operation at the same time. Police spend $250 million a year dealing with alcohol issues.

OUR DRINKING

On an average day in New Zealand:  
  • 272 people who have been drinking are arrested.
  • 94 are caught drink-driving.
  • 32 breach liquor bans.
  • 44 people or groups have to be taken home or detained because they are drunk.

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