Pub drinkers targeted

New Zealand police monitor customers in bars

Jan 17, 2005 - New Zealand police have begun quizzing patrons in bars to see if they've had too much to drink.


Officers in many areas have increased use of Liquor Act - including the little-known clause that bans intoxicated people from licensed premises.

"We're trying to change the culture of people who have the idea, "I'm going out and I'm going to go to a pub and get intoxicated,'" Senior Sergeant Shane Mulcahy of the Auckland City district told The New Zealand Herald.

"I tell the licensees that we're trying to look at big social issues. Rather than just trying to get lots of money in their tills, we want them to look at the issues too," he said.

Those issues are drunk driving, domestic violence and street violence caused by drunks, and the health effects of heavy drinking.

The drinkers are not penalized under the law, although they will usually be ejected from the bar if they are too drunk.

Police will soon begin a nationwide Alco-Link project, in which every person processed through police cells will be quizzed to see if they are intoxicated and if so, where and when they had their last drink.

The Hospitality Association says it welcomes police moves to address crime, but it is concerned its members may be unfairly targeted. "The individual responsibility of general patrons could be lost in all this," said Raewyn Bleakley, the association's national operations manager.

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