Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Police brace for New Year's Eve revelry

File photo / Bay of Plenty Times
File photo / Bay of Plenty Times

If people celebrate too hard seeing in the New Year tonight in some North Island party zones, they might find themselves being handcuffed by the country's top cops.

Commissioner Peter Marshall will be hitting the streets in Auckland City Police District, Deputy Commissioner Mike Bush will be with staff in Wellington and Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard is working at the Rhythm & Vines music festival near Gisborne.

Mr Marshall will be seeing in his 40th New Year's Eve on the beat and said in terms of policing on the year's biggest party night, nothing much had changed over the decades.

"The districts will all be putting forward a lot of resources,'' he told APNZ.

"There will be scores of police officers and there will be more out where the hotspots are.''

He said the policy was for high visibility policing and "good humour''.

"There's a fine line between people enjoying themselves and not getting too drunk.

"We want people to enjoy themselves and have a good time, but be respectful to each other, and respectful to our staff.''

Five police officers were attacked in four incidents in just four days over Christmas.

Traditional trouble spots included Mt Maunganui in the Bay of Plenty.

Senior Sergeant Rob Glencross of Tauranga police said there would be a strong contingent of police at the Mount.

"People can expect to see a greater police presence down there.''

The whole aim was to create a ``family friendly'' environment, so police would be cracking down on public drinking and disorder.

"Trying to keep a lid on that so people of all ages can go out and try to enjoy their evening,'' Mr Glencross said.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council had planned entertainment and fireworks for the expected crowds.

Gisborne police were also preparing for a busy night - with large crowds already in the area for the Rhythm & Vines festival, which draws up to 30,000 people.

Tairawhiti police area commander Inspector Sam Aberahama said there were other events as well going on in the area.

"Our local policemen are all on duty and we've got a couple of teams from out of the district who have come in to give us a hand too.''

Drink driving checkpoints would be in place both north and south of Gisborne, Mr Aberahama said.

Inspector Lance Burnett of northern police communications said there would be a full contingent of police at the country's trouble spots.

"We've got every man and his dog out there.''

The call centres would be working to prioritise calls as they came in and police may not be able to attend smaller incidents.

"If there's risk to life then we've got to go.

"We're focussing on the major centres, the major trouble spots.''

Police would be working on historical evidence of where best to put their resources - "it's intelligence-based policing'', Mr Burnett said.

Regional police would be doing a lot of pro-active work in sending staff to known tension points in an attempt to avoid any problems, he said.

Wellington police would be concentrated around the waterfront where the city council had organised a fireworks display, as well as Courtenay Place where the majority of bars and clubs were.

Tactical response manager Inspector Terry van Dillen said Wellington was historically quiet over the new year, but there were still a lot of people in the capital.

There would always be some people who would drink to excess tonight, he said.

"We've got plenty of cells at the Wellington police station, so if they don't pass the attitude test then we'll fill those up no worries at all and kick them out in the morning.''

And Inspector Peter Hegarty of southern police communications said people tended to travel away from the big centres to smaller towns and beach areas, such as the Tasman District, Hamner Springs and Methven.

"They tend to have an influx of travellers come for New Year's Eve.

Mr Hegarty said they would move resources to those areas.

Rain was forecast tonight for the South Island, which should help to keep party-goers a bit calmer, Mr Hegarty said.

"But I'm not sure when it's going to arrive and what areas it's going to affect at this stage.''

The key safety message was to find a sober driver, or if there was nobody available, to stay put, he said.

- APNZ

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