21 Oct 2014

Police want earlier closing times

6:52 pm on 21 October 2014

Police officers are being pulled from communities around Wellington to focus on preventing alcohol-related crimes in the city on Friday and Saturday nights.

Senior Sergeant Mike Buttar made the comment while giving evidence at an appeal hearing into the Wellington City Council's liquor laws before the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority today.

The council is defending its bylaws, which allow some bars to remain open until 5am and off-licensed premises to sell alcohol until 11pm, as police and some health authorities appeal against current bar closing times and the availability of alcohol in the capital.

Mr Buttar said it is a tough call having to drag community officers and Youth Aid staff from their work to prevent alcohol related offences in the city.

He said it is necessary, but unfortunate, and police want to see closing times brought forward.

Another officer told the hearing today that assaults on young women are a weekly occurrence and alcohol-fuelled students are a real concern.

Senior Sergeant Andrzej Kowalcyzk said drunk women often become separated from groups and walk home alone, which he shudders to think about. He says Tory, Dixon, Taranaki and Cuba streets are a real concern with drunk students.

A former alcohol harm prevention officer told the hearing that a 3am closing time for bars would make a significant difference because people's intoxication is much higher and their behaviour harder to deal with after three.

Sergeant Terry Fraser put video evidence of people's drunk behaviour in Courtenay Place before the hearing yesterday.

The hearing is set down for the rest of the week.

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