21 Mar 2016

Police fed up with alcohol-fuelled brawls

8:06 pm on 21 March 2016

A spate of alcohol-fuelled violence in central Auckland is a wake-up call but bar opening times don't need a rethink, the city's mayor says.

Two police officers in uniform look on as clients dance at night in bar

Partygoers drink and talk at a bar as two police officers look on (file) Photo: RNZ / Steve Wilde

Four large brawls, which left two seriously injured, broke out on Saturday night, prompting police to again call for the Auckland Council to close bars earlier than 4am.

Inspector Gary Davey said this type of behaviour was not unusual in the central city, particularly around Karangahape Rd and in Ponsonby.

The police had accumulated a library of footage of it happening every weekend, he said.

"This violence takes place in front of policemen. The level of intoxication is so high, they don't care whether the police are there or not - and the fighting continues whether police are there or not, and police struggle to actually break it all up."

The situation had improved slightly since bars began shutting at 4am but the level of intoxication and alcohol-fuelled harm was still far too high, Mr Davey said.

The council should do what appeared to be working in Sydney and bring in a policy under which no-one would be admitted to bars after 1.30am and all bars would be closed at 3am, he said.

Mr Davey said the police were struggling to break up fights despite being well-resourced.

Mayor responds

Auckland mayor Len Brown at the gathering of graffiti agencies in Auckland.

Auckland mayor Len Brown Photo: RNZ/Kim Baker Wilson

Auckland mayor Len Brown said more needed to be done to curb the violence - but not the drastic action that the police were calling for.

Bars would keep staying open until 4am, he said.

"The other day was not good. I have not seen the same level of reporting, I certainly haven't heard it from police ... so if it's been like this all along, it's not been reported to me.

"I suspect the activity was at the extreme end of it."

He said a small drop in crime reported downtown showed progress was being made.

It was a juggling act keeping the city's rising population and increasingly popular nightlife balanced with responsible drinking, he added.

"Auckland and New Zealand has just been going through years of consultation with the community as to what the right closing times are for our CBD areas.

"In particular, Auckland needs to find the right balance, and I think we have."

The council adopted a provisional local alcohol policy in May 2015 but it will not take effect until several appeals, including one by the police, are worked through.

A hearing date for the police's appeal has not yet been set.

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