Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Cup and booze crime hit Auckland stats

Police say central Auckland adversely affected by revellers as recorded offences rise to buck national trend.

In 2010/11, 4267 public disorder offences were recorded in Auckland city. Photo / APN
In 2010/11, 4267 public disorder offences were recorded in Auckland city. Photo / APN

A huge 46.3 per cent increase in booze-related offending in Auckland is being attributed to the influx of Rugby World Cup fans and an intensive police crackdown on alcohol in the CBD.

While police say the increase is a "blip", they are still not happy with the level of alcohol-related "harm" in the city and are vowing to make more arrests when and where needed.

In 2010/11, 4267 public disorder offences were recorded in Auckland city.

That rose to 6243 in the year ending June 30.

The figures were revealed in the 2011/12 official crime statistics, released by police yesterday.

Across all three police districts in Auckland, total crime had decreased from 139,066 recorded offences last year to 136,176 in the year ending June 30.

But in Auckland Central, there was a 5.4 per cent increase in total crime.

Police said the reason for the increase was simple - officers were targeting high-risk and high-booze areas and arresting more people for breaching liquor bans and other alcohol-related crime including assault, fighting and general disorder.

That, coupled with the extra arrests made during World Cup celebrations last year, had skewed the figures.

Area Commander Inspector Andrew Coster said the public could expect even more action from police in the next year.

"We still have a level of alcohol-related harm that is well beyond what we are thinking most people would consider acceptable," he said.

"Breach of liquor ban offences remains an ongoing focus for us in terms of our enforcement. There are still unacceptable levels of intoxication within the central city."

Mr Coster said targeting liquor ban breaches often stopped people from going on to get even drunker and commit crimes or become a victim.

He had been working with the mayoral taskforce in recent months to combat issues in the CBD.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said of the police: "They had a very big year last year and a big influx of visitors ... so that's to be expected that that would have an effect on those sorts of stats, which would then skew their overall stats.

"It's just unfortunate that their good policing work during the Rugby World Cup probably has seen those stats skewed. All of these things are what you'd expect when you have large crowds congregating in Auckland."

Since the crackdown on drunkenness was launched there had been a significant decrease in booze-related problems in the area.

The Herald revealed last month there had been a fivefold decrease in liquor ban breaches, from 549 to 112, since the launch.

Mayor Len Brown said the fall in overall crime in the wider Auckland area was "very welcome", but the central city still needed work.

"In the central city, the figures clearly suggest the work of the Mayoral taskforce has had an effect," he said.

"And it is clearly having results. So far we have witnessed a halving in antisocial behaviour and 94 per cent compliance around licensed premises. This work will be ongoing.

"Our biggest hurdle continues to be the alcohol reform legislation currently before Parliament. That needs to be passed so we can get on with the introduction of Local Alcohol Plans allowing communities to have much more say over the sale of alcohol in their areas."

Mr Coster said serious and violent crime was down, but property crime remained an issue in the area.

Most victims reported having phones, handbags or small items stolen or their cars broken into.

"These are the offences that whilst they don't rate as being particularly serious, they affect a huge number of people. Much of it is preventable."

He said the stats were not a surprise.

"But while they are not surprising, we are still looking forward to an improvement. There is still a lot more that can be done to reduce the levels."

- NZ Herald

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