Police plan hard line on alcohol

By Amy McGillivray


Police will be taking a hard line on alcohol at New Year celebrations tonight but they predict a relatively orderly night in contrast to the chaos they encountered more than a decade ago when riots broke out in Mount Maunganui.

The fine weather predicted for the Western Bay on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day will see plenty of holiday-makers enjoying the festivities but Sergeant Craig Madden said he expected most would be well behaved.

Temperatures are forecast to hit about 24C during today and tomorrow's sun, but some cloud was tipped on Wednesday with rain on Thursday.

Mr Madden was among the officers tasked with restoring order during the riots in 2000 but he is confident measures implemented since then will prevent a repeat of the chaos.

He and his six-person alcohol harm reduction team will work 10-hour shifts starting in the late afternoon or evening for much of the holiday period.

"My team is trained to deal with larger groups of disorder but my feeling is that we won't be needed again. We're trained and we're ready but I don't expect we'll be required," he said.

Police had been hard at work making themselves known and setting the standard since the end of November, he said.

"We're conditioning the guys [who could cause trouble] to the climate and how we want them to behave," he said. "We're being visible and letting the public know that the people who come into our town for a holiday ... can walk the streets without fear."

Over the past few years the number of street assaults and disorder police had been called to deal with had fallen, he said.

This was largely because police had placed more resources on ensuring bar managers took a hard line on drunkenness.

Mr Madden said the biggest problem for police now was young people getting drunk before they went into town. "Those are the ones that we have to deal with because ... they are out on the streets" after being refused entry.

The message was simple, he said. "You come to the Bay of Plenty to have a good time. It's not an alcohol-fuelled party."

To let people know just what it is like on the front-line patrolling Tauranga and Mount Maunganui police will be tweeting messages and photos about the incidents and situations they are attending.

Western Bay of Plenty Area Commander Inspector Clifford Paxton said he encouraged Twitter users in the Western Bay for New Year's Eve to interact with the staff on patrol.

"Our staff give up precious time with their families to help keep your families safe, so keep them company and support their efforts to ensure we have a memorable and trouble-free evening," he said.

The virtual ride-along will take place from 7pm on New Year's Eve through to 2am on New Year's Day. Follow @BOPPolice or search for hashtag #BOPPolice.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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