Wellington police are shining the spotlight on the city's alcohol-free zones in a bid to reduce alcohol-related harm and make the streets feel safer for citizens.
"We want people to walk through our city without feeling intimidated by people consuming alcohol in public areas, and the alcohol-free zones act as both a safety initiative and a prevention tool," area commander Inspector Dean Silvester said.
The comments follow reports locals feel unsafe walking through the city, prompting police to focus on educating the community about the alcohol-free zones and what they mean.
The move is part of the ongoing joint commitment to a social contract for Wellington launched by Wellington City Council, police, Greater Wellington, and the city's hospitality and retail sectors.
Police have committed to proactively monitor the central city's liquor ban.
Over-consumption of alcohol was a major driver of social harm in Wellington; most incidents of violence, disorder or anti-social behaviour involved intoxicated people, Silvester said.
"We have challenges with people pre-loading prior to coming into the city or side-loading by purchasing alcohol at off-licences, or bringing it with them, and drinking it in areas surrounding the entertainment district. Side-loading is a concern for us and something we are actively looking to enforce," he said.
Wellington Mayor Andy Foster said people needed to remember drinking alcohol or possessing opened alcohol in the alcohol-free zones was illegal and punishable by a fine.
"We, and the police, are asking people to be responsible and only drink alcohol in a licensed bar and not on the street. It's the right thing to do and plays a big part in ensuring everyone has an enjoyable and safe time when they are out in the city."
Police have several options available to them if they find a person drinking or in possession of opened alcohol in one of the alcohol-free zones. These include formal warnings, the issuing of an Alcohol Infringement Offence Notice requiring payment of a $250 fee, or arrest.
"Our aim for any intervention is to achieve the most appropriate outcome for that given situation," Silvester said.
"If we see you in an alcohol-free zone breaching the bylaw, you can expect to get attention from us."
Councillor Tamatha Paul, the city safety portfolio lead, said educating people about the liquor ban was a vital step in changing behaviour.
"We have a responsibility to make sure Wellingtonians and visitors to our central city have the information they need to make good decisions. We'll also be reminding people about the alcohol-free zones by increasing our own communications about where people are not able to drink alcohol."
Police will review the results of action undertaken during April to determine how best to focus on the zones going forward.
The Wellington city 24/7 alcohol-free zones include:
• Wellington Central area.
• Oriental Bay.
• Mount Victoria West.
• Mount Victoria lookout.
• Aro Valley.
• Central Park.
• Mount Cook.