Police have caught six Rotorua licensed premises selling alcohol to minors since the start of 2015, but a local officer says overall Rotorua's licensed premises are doing a great job.

Police regularly do Controlled Purchase Operations (CPOs) throughout Rotorua to make sure licensed premises aren't serving minors, which is in breach of the Sale and Supply of Liquor Act.

In a CPO police send an underage person into the premises, who attempts to buy alcohol. If they are served, the licensed premises is breaking the law.

Rotorua area prevention manager Inspector Stu Nightingale said including superettes, restaurants, bars and supermarkets, there would be about 130 licensees in Rotorua.


He said since the start of 2015 police had carried out eight CPOs. Four premises were caught during 2015 and two so far this year.

Each was penalised with somewhere between a one to three day closure and a 28 day suspension for the duty manager's certificate that sold the alcohol to the minor.

Mr Nightingale said the operations were usually random but could be as a result of information from a concerned person.

"It's about keeping the community safe, not just for licensed premises but for everyone who has children. We want people to be able to go out without coming across young drunk people causing trouble and we want to keep them safe."

He said on top of the CPOs police carried out regular licence checks every week.

"Extreme cases where there is repeated cases can result in a loss of licence. There's a lot at stake. On a busy night in the CBD there are a lot of people and mistakes can be made.

"But it's not unusual for there not to be any breaches when we do a CPO.

"I think the licensed premises here have a professional manner, they're focused on doing their part in reducing alcohol harm as well. They are doing a good job," Mr Nightingale said.

Owner of Our Backyard Pub and the chairman of the Rotorua Central Liquor Accord Richard Hazeldine said he knew a couple of licensed premises had failed, but he believed Rotorua as a whole was very good.

"But one failure is one failure too many. Police have to make sure that people are complying because none of us want underage people in bars.

"I've been in this industry for a long time and very rarely have I heard of a premise saying it's wrong when they get caught. If they do get caught they generally step up, often they step up their I.D policy from checking those who look under 25 to those who look under 30."

He said most people who were asked for I.D took it well and often as a compliment.