A police sting on drunks in bars netted two people grossly intoxicated in two Whangarei bars and two businesses were nabbed selling alcohol to underage drinkers.

It was the first controlled purchase operation (CPO) in Whangarei under new liquor laws formulated in conjunction with the Northland District Health Board.

Whangarei police alcohol harm reduction officer Constable Mark Andrews said 16 premises were visited as part of the CPO which included 14 off-licence premises.

One off-licensed store sold to a minor, aged under 18 years, and one on-licensed operation was caught selling to an underage drinker. Two on-licensed businesses in downtown Whangarei were caught with heavily intoxicated patrons on the premises.


Mr Andrews said all the businesses that breached the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 would face penalties, which could include a minimum suspension of trading for 24 hours and a minimum of a two-week suspension of a duty manager's licence.

Police were concerned about the level of intoxication and alcohol consumption at licensed premises in central Whangarei and would continue to target the area with CPOs and reminders to licensees of their responsibilities. "However, a majority of the licensed premises do comply with the law and I'd like to acknowledge those who check IDs of young people and keep an eye on intoxication levels."

Mr Andrews said the operations were not just about checking compliance of the licensed premises, but were part of making Whangarei a safe place in which to have a night out.

"Alcohol continues to be one of the main drivers of crime, particularly in disorder and violence. We want people to enjoy themselves and not become the victims of alcohol-induced crime."

The monitoring involved plain-clothes police officers observing patrons and staff in various bars.

Last month a similar operation in the Far North nabbed four out of 10 retailers who sold booze to people under 18 years old. The operation covered Ahipara, Kaitaia, Awanui and Houhora and tested the compliance of selling alcohol to minors at nine off-licensed premises and one on-licensed business. Four of the premises sold alcohol to the underage drinkers.