Police and health agency appeal against council alcohol policy in bid to cut back drinking damage.

Bars could close hours earlier and one-way door policies be introduced across Auckland if police and local health authorities get their way.

Auckland police and Auckland Regional Public Health Service have lodged an appeal against Auckland Council's provisional local alcohol policy, which sets new rules for bars, bottle stores and any other business selling alcohol in the city.

The agencies say the proposed rules are insufficient to reduce alcohol-related harm and do not address concerns raised in their previous submissions.

Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Richard Chambers said in the past six days, at least seven alcohol-related serious assaults had occurred in the Auckland CBD, with five victims hospitalised and three people arrested, with more charges likely.


"Auckland police are disappointed the council's [policy] doesn't go far enough to ensure harm caused by excessive or inappropriate consumption of alcohol is minimised," he said.

"Day and night we see the effects alcohol-induced harm have on Auckland citizens and visitors to our region."

A public health service spokesman said the agency, which provides public health services to Auckland's three district health boards, supported the police's appeal.

"Reducing the availability of alcohol is essential to reducing harm. Reducing hours of availability and the number of alcohol retailers are two big ticket items for achieving this."

The appeal was backed by national and international evidence "regarding the cost of alcohol to society, health services, individuals and in human suffering and injury".

The proposed rules will dictate how alcohol is sold and consumed in the city. Rules vary for different businesses in different areas.

Under the council's proposed rules, suburban bars could stay open until 3am and city bars until 4am. People could go in and out of bars and high-risk zones, called priority overlay areas, differed from police classifications.

Mr Chambers said a "one-way door policy" - where people cannot enter bars after 1am but can leave - would prevent people spilling out on to the streets at 3am, which was often when disorder occurred.


Five areas - Pt Chevalier, Onehunga, Orewa, Takapuna and Warkworth - were known risk areas but had not been labelled priority overlay zones. The council's proposed trading hours were based on a "one size fits all" approach, he said.

"We wouldn't want to stop restaurants opening up and being licensed, but particularly bars would be a concern because they allow people to drink further and longer."

Mr Chambers said the agencies' proposed changes were highlighted in the initial submission process last year, but had not been addressed.

"We haven't changed our position. We still believe [the local alcohol policy] doesn't go far enough in minimising the harm that's occurring in Auckland," the police chief said.

A council spokeswoman said it could not comment on specific appeals as the matter was before the Ministry of Justice's Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority.

Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Bruce Robertson said the industry had accepted the decisions made by council.

"It's a shame the police and crown public health won't do likewise and are just going to put the council and a lot of other parties through a whole lot of extra expense."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said it was too soon to know when the appeals would be heard or how long the process would take.

Setting limits

Auckland Council proposal:

• Suburban bars open until 3am
• CBD bars open until 4am
• Unrestricted entry
• High-risk areas have different rules

What police and health agencies want:
• Suburban bars close at 1am
• City bars close at 3am
• City bars ban entry after 1am
• Reclassification of areas known to be high-risk