A blitz on licensed premises in Northland saw four out of 35 businesses breach their licences which has pleased officials - but has them warning to take more care approaching the festive season.
Last weekend Whangarei District Council, police and Northland District Health Board conducted a controlled purchase operation (CPO) during which volunteers and staff from the three organisations entered premises to observe and test compliance with the Sale of Liquor Act.
In Whangarei 23 premises were checked, including 18 off-license premises and five on-license premises. One off-licence and one on-licence breached their licences, which will result in applications for suspension of their licences and managers certificates.
In the Far North 12 premises were checked, including seven off-licence premises and five on-licence premises. Yet again one off-licence and one on-licence breached their licences, which will result in applications for suspension of their licences and managers certificates.
Police Area Commander Whangarei/Kaipara Inspector Tracy Phillips said breaches included sales to under-aged volunteers.
She said overall the compliance testing was positive with most premises providing a safe environment for patrons.
"Some premises need to make minor changes to how they do their business, such as supplying and promoting free drinking water in on-license premises," Ms Phillips said.
That would become a requirement with the change to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, which comes into effect December 18, 2013.
"We find that most people are surprised to hear that licensed premises are required to provide at least three substantial types of food at any time that they are selling alcohol. The food should be actively promoted and of reasonable quality, at a reasonable price and within a reasonable time."
She said licensed premises had a responsibility to provide a safe environment for patrons and staff and allowing people to become intoxicated had a huge ripple effect on family violence, assaults, road crashes and victimisation.
With Christmas approaching was important to ensure that alcohol was sold and served in a responsible manner.
"We will increase our integrity testing as we approach Christmas."
Agencies plan to work together over the Christmas period throughout Northland to ensure that premises provide a safe social drinking culture.
Police will be making applications for suspension to the Alcohol Regulatory Licensing Authority. Failure for the first time to provide food or a sale to a minor usually results in a 24-hour suspension for the premises and about a two week suspension for the duty manager.