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Thursday, November 19

OPERATION UNITE: A POLICE BLITZ ON DRUNKEN VIOLENCE





Police commissioners from across Australia and New Zealand gathered in Perth today for the launch of a united stand against drunken violence.

Police in New Zealand will be highlighting the work they do to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime and antisocial behaviour during the blitz on the weekend of the 11th and 12th of December.

The crackdown - codenamed Operation Unite - will be a first of kind, comprehensive and coordinated action by police forces in all states and jurisdictions.

It will demonstrate the united resolve of commissioners to change Australia and New Zealand’s culture of binge drinking in public places, and challenge the drinking public to take greater responsibility for their conduct.

The commissioners believe that enforcement can only ever be one part of the solution – and that further actions are needed from a range of stakeholders if we are to successfully confront the causes and problems associated with alcohol misuse.

Announcing the initiative at a meeting in Perth this morning, the commissioners warned that police have 'had enough' of dealing with Australia and New Zealand's dangerous culture of binge drinking in public places.

Commissioner Howard Broad said alcohol is a major driver of problems police have to confront.

"Alcohol, particularly in combination with drugs, impacts on many aspects of policing, including violent offending, homicides, drink driving, family violence incidents, accommodating intoxicated people in police cells and incidents or offending involving young people.

"While legislation and enforcement are key to, changing the drinking culture is crucial.

"The 'drink to get drunk’ culture cannot continue, or become the norm, and that is why we are taking decisive action. While we cannot arrest our way out of this problem, we agree there is a need for stronger policing."

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland agreed: “In addition to stronger enforcement, we acknowledge that there is a need for cultural change and better licensing regulations.

"We all share the belief that more can, and must, be done to tackle the dangerous binge drinking culture which has developed among our younger generations.

“Alcohol fuelled violence is one of the most pressing social challenges of our time. No state or territory is immune to this problem. It is costing us millions of dollars each year and shattering many, many young lives."

Commissioner Broad said the crackdown was making people safer and more secure and sending a clear message that enough is enough. "We are not out to curb the enjoyment but instead tackle this problem with a heightened sense of commitment and urgency.

“All the Commissioners firmly believe that it is not just a case of stopping the violence. We need to find out why it is happening in the first place and start looking at the long term issues to ensure that these factors don’t influence future generations.”

In New Zealand the total crime cost due to harmful alcohol and drug use is estimated at $1.1 billion. This includes costs to the victims of crime, the use of police resources, court related costs and prison.

The total social cost of harmful alcohol and drug misuse for the year 05/06 was estimated at $6.881 billion.