Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Alcohol levy plan to rid city of drunks

Roger Hall. Photo / Janna Dixon
Roger Hall. Photo / Janna Dixon

A lobby group and a playwright have given ideas to an Auckland Council safety group on how to rid the city centre's streets of drunken behaviour.

Members of the public gathered in the Town Hall yesterday, where councillors on the Community Safety Forum were urged to take a more practical approach.

The chairman of the Auckland CBD residents advisory group, Tim Coffey, asked them to introduce a targeted rate for all on- and off-licence businesses in the central business district.

Mr Coffey said violence and crude behaviour in the city - stemming from people drinking excessive amounts of alcohol - had reached worrying levels.

"Female nightshift workers being assaulted and attempted rape on the streets of Auckland is where I draw the line."

Councillor Cathy Casey agreed that central city streets were becoming more dangerous because of drunkenness, but said it would be unfair to have targeted rates only for those residents or businesses.

"Yes, it's a CBD issue, but the whole of Auckland uses the CBD. I think the whole of Auckland should be paying for it - not just residents of the CBD."

Playwright Roger Hall was also at the meeting with ideas for stamping out the city's problems with alcohol.

He proposed that the council put together a "drinkers welcome - drunks not" policy for the city centre.

"I know it's a national issue, but it would be really good for Auckland to be the leader in this attitude."

The policy would include a campaign in which Aucklanders would be sent information about how excessive alcohol consumption was creating problems in various ways.

That included how drunkenness was affecting the city's crime statistics, the health system, road safety and domestic violence.

The meeting also touched on the public perception that there was a lack of police officers on the streets late at night.

Councillor Dick Quax asked the city's police chief, Assistant Commissioner Allan Boreham, who was at the meeting, whether Auckland had a shortage of police officers.

Mr Boreham, who is the assistant commissioner for the Upper North, said that was not the case.

Thousands of officers were based in the Auckland CBD working in various parts of the force such as road patrol, foot patrol and in the communications centre.

However making officers more visible on the streets was something police were working on, he said.

"Visibility of police is something that is regularly raised and we're working on it.

"We know that it is an important aspect of people's perception of safety."

- NZ Herald

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