Wānaka Sun       

Wānaka Police delighted with New Year effort from bar owners

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 07 Jan, 2021 | By Jo Galer newsdesk@thewanakasun.co.nz

Wānaka Police are delighted that good preparation and buy-in from the town's bar owners resulted in a fraction of the disorder problems experienced in other years over New Year 2020. 

 Prevention Sergeant Darren Cranfield said Police have worked really hard with them in the three months leading up to New Year on things like how to improve dealing with intoxicated people and providing staffing on doors. 

 “Together we did a huge amount of prevention work and it has paid off.

“So we are really appreciative of how they've responded to the prevention meetings. Major bars in town this year were largely problem-free. To have big numbers of people coming through the town and to have minimal issues, I take my hat off to the bars and their managers. That's remarkable.”

 Water Bar owner Toby May said his bar was thrilled with the results of their preparation in managing numbers through the door, keeping numbers even below allowable limits, and training for security staff on the door. The training included how to manage intoxification, and recognise problems proactively before they started. 

 His bar, one of several the Police mentioned as examples,  experienced 3-4 very good consecutive nights over the New Year period.  

 “We were completely thrilled. We had high numbers of patrons through the door, good trade and a good experience, and a good experience for our staff as well,” he said.

 “ The situation felt more in control and more normal.”

 Police said that still at issue, however, were numbers of under-age drinkers, children, arriving into the

Wānaka town centre unaccompanied by parents, with more fights between teens than usual.

 Some infringement notices were given out in relation to alcohol, underage drinking and drinking inside the liquor ban zone. 

“The bottom line is the children are young and vulnerable and you put alcohol into the mix it increases their risk of harm substantially,” said Sgt Cranfield.

“We would love to see more parents out and about and for those that did show up we do thank you, it was really good to see them. They are another set of eyes for us so the more parents the better.”

More young people congregated at the Dinosaur Park this year. Extra lighting needed to be installed to assist Police in endeavouring to stop problems before they escalated. 

He praised local and out of town Police contingent, Community Patrols, and all the other groups involved with this year's festivities who came to town and did a “fantastic job.”

Also a special thanks to the Red Frogs for their help keeping young people safe in the town and provision of free pancakes. 

Next year, an initiative with Wānaka's Kahu Youth group would work together with Police to improve communication with young people and enhance the reach of the safety messaging. 

“In future we will see more focus on how we deliver the message of how to keep young people safe. Police and Kahu Youth will lead this and it will be directed at the parents and their children. Expect to see some unique initiatives that we are likely to implement next New Year's Eve,” he said.  

“We hope to include an app on phones with different messages, involving youth from the ground up – we want the young people themselves to be telling others by introducing a morefun element to this.” 

Wilful damage was also a problem in Wānaka this New Year's eve, particularly on Plantation Rd and Kings Drive, including damage to house windows, vehicles and letter boxes. One group of vehicles had acid tipped over them, but Police suspected this was not related to minors but instead to noise problems.

Fingerprints were taken at a number of scenes as part of inquiries. He also thanked the camping grounds for their policies to restrict young people camping on their own and keep it to families.

“That's a proactive initiative and for us that was great to see. This year the vibe was positive and I think again next year we will see a bigger increase in the campsites doing that.”

“ Overall New Year is always a challenging time for us and as an organisation we try really hard to mitigate the risk of harm and deliver a service the public expects. We recognise there's always room for improvement but overall I think the community is in safe hands, ” said Sgt Cranfield.

Read edition 1008 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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