Wellington Scoop

4am closing may help reduce alcohol harm, say police after start of new law

Police say that last night they had a first indication that reducing trading hours for bars might help to reduce alcohol-related harm.

The Friday before Christmas is traditionally one of the busiest nights of the year for police, but there were fewer calls for service in Wellington and Auckland than for the previous two Fridays, says Inspector Ben Offner, Manager of Alcohol Harm Prevention.

One of the changes brought by the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act is that licensed premises have to close their doors at 4am.

“Our staff said bars were really busy, but at 4am everyone jumped into taxis and went home.”

He says licensees were taking their responsibilities seriously by refusing to serve intoxicated people or allow them onto the premises. A definition of intoxication has been written into the Act to give clear guidelines to police and bar staff.

“This has put a line in the sand. It’s okay to enjoy alcohol up to a point, but after that it’s intoxication. That’s when the fun stops and the harm begins,” says Inspector Offner.

“Our young people have an infatuation with intoxication – they drink to get drunk. But when you can’t make sound decisions, or you fall over and hit your head, that’s not good, and that’s one of the adjustments we need to make.”