Alcohol most available in Chch's poorest suburbs

By Shelley Robinson

Police say the CDHB statistics also align with crime data. Photo / Thinkstock
Police say the CDHB statistics also align with crime data. Photo / Thinkstock

People living in Christchurch's poorest suburbs have the easiest access to booze and cause the most alcohol related harm.

Canterbury District Health Board statistics show alcohol outlets are prevalent in the areas where people can least afford it.

The data also showed a direct causative link with the amount of poorer people seeking emergency department treatment for alcohol related harm and crime.

Canterbury District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey said: "Essentially there is more alcohol available in poorer areas - there are similar patterns with gambling and smoking."

He said although commercial outlets probably don't see themselves as part of the problem he said undeniable that they go "where they can sell the most and make the most profit".

"They are in places where it is poorer and undercut each other, causing cheaper booze," he said.

According to the New Zealand Deprivation Index, parts of Hornby, Riccarton, Addington, Sydenham, Linwood, Bromley, Aranui and New Brighton are areas of highest deprivation in Christchurch.

These areas had 224 on-licensed premises and 96 off-licenses according to CDHB statistics.

In shocking contrast wealthy areas such as Fendalton, Deans Bush, Holmwood and Strowan, accounted for 71 on-licensed premises and 20 off-licenses according to CDHB statistics.

Dr Humphrey said poorer areas as a result, were the biggest group seeking treatment for alcohol related harm from the emergency department.

"They represent a disproportionately high number of presentations to the emergency department," he said.

Police say the CDHB statistics also align with crime data.

"In relation to alcohol related harm the police experience is similar to the CDHB," said Senior Sergeant Glenn Nalder.

"International and national research tends to indicate the more freely available the alcohol the greater the social harms including crime," he said.

As a result, the CDHB wants a moratorium, or halt, put on the number of bottle stores and taverns in the city's poorer areas.

Dr Humphrey's said the recommendation has gone to the city council and was out for consultation under the Local Alcohol Policy, along with 9am to 9pm off-licence hours in the suburbs and a 3am closing and 1am one-way door policy in the central city.

Senior Sergeant Nalder said the CDHB had the right idea.

"We know if we reduce the amount of places where alcohol is available then that will reduce the impact on crime and other harm indicators," he said.

- Christchurch Star

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