|8 November 2002|
Council fast-tracks weekend central city public alcohol ban
Christchurch could bring in before Christmas a central city ban on alcohol in public following a City Council decision to seek an emergency Council meeting next week.
Inspector David Lawry, Christchurch Police, today asked a CCC Committee to consider the ban which he believes could make a big improvement in actual public safety and to people’s feelings about how safe the central city is. His staff estimate that up to 80 per cent of disorder offences involve people who have been drinking.
Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore agrees and will call his Council together next week to debate Inspector Lawry’s scheme. If it backs the idea, the public would have a month to comment before a second Council debate to consider any public input and make a decision. The timing means a ban could be in place by Christmas.
The Police proposal is along similar lines to successful bans in Auckland and other cities, said Inspector Lawry. It would give police officers the right to tell people they are not allowed to be drinking or carrying alcohol in public places between 7pm and 7am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights within the central city’s four avenues. It would also provide police powers to enforce the issues should advice not be taken readily.
It would not apply to people in supervised bar areas or those taking a bottle of wine or some beer to a restaurant or to an inner-city home or apartment. As well, everyone spoken to would be given a chance to take their alcohol away.
“It’s not about arresting hundreds of people,” Inspector Lawry told the City Councillors. “It’s mainly about education, telling people that it’s not appropriate to be wandering the streets drinking. Even if they’re behaving themselves, a lot of people find that frightening and bottles and glasses can, and sometimes are, used as weapons.”
The central city already is a safe area for people, he said, and the ban would complement other schemes being run by the Police, Council and other agencies to make it even safer.
“You’ve got more than 60,000 people coming in and out every day and fewer than 20 violence or disorder offences,” Inspector Lawry said. “That means a very low probability of being involved in crime, but I think this scheme could cut that small number of offences by as much as a fifth so it’s worth doing.”
Just as important, he said, was its likely effect on people’s perception of central city safety. “This is a safe area and this partnership with the Council will help us persuade more people that that is so,” he said.