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The Police Association hopes the Law Commission’s issues paper on liquor law reform prompts serious debate leading to changes in liquor laws and public attitudes towards liquor consumption, Police Association Vice-President Chris Cahill said today.
“The Law Commission’s report is comprehensive, and we will be making detailed submissions on it. However, the top two priorities for law reform must be the drinking age, and hours of trade,” Mr Cahill said.
“Many New Zealanders don’t appreciate just how chaotic it gets late at night in many of our cities, because they are at home in bed. Police have to actually deal with the violence, disorder, and crashes caused by drunks. We are spending an increasing amount of time and energy dealing with alcohol, when we’d far rather be able to use those resources to combat serious crime.
“Lowering the drinking age in 1999 was not the cause of all our problems, but it certainly made things significantly worse. More young people, who are both less mature and more vulnerable when intoxicated, have easier access to alcohol now than they did before,” Mr Cahill said.
“A survey of our members conducted in November last year by research company Nielsen showed 72% of police want the drinking age raised to 20 across the board, and a further 18% want the age raised to 20 for off-licence purchases. That is an overwhelming majority calling for the drinking age to be raised.
“Similarly, late-night liquor availability is a real problem because it allows people whose judgement is already long gone to keep drinking, when they should simply go home and sleep it off. This is especially the case with late night off-licence liquor outlets which allow people to ‘top up’ with cheap booze before returning to the central city ‘party zones’.
“Those issues must be dealt with, and we hope the Law Commission’s report at least leads to action in these areas,” Mr Cahill said.