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Last chance saloons: Police reveal their secret list of New Zealand's most troublesom

  1. aemetha
    New Zealand's worst bars can now be revealed with police figures showing where people drank before being reached by the long arm of the law.

    It had the makings of a good night in New Zealand's most notorious bar. "Down from Aux just for the night, free drinks, a gazillion new friends & tooooo many hilarious/weird/amazing moments," writes Jackie on Instagram. Quoting US hip-hopper Fetty Wap, she boasts: "17 shots".

    It was just another night out at The Hood, Hamilton. Last year, 69 punters left the bar to reel into the arms of the law. By that measure, The Hood on Victoria St, Hamilton is New Zealand's most notorious bar.

    Police urge some caution about the figures, which were obtained under the Official Information Act. They point out the names of the bars are supplied when they apprehend people for offences like drink-driving, drunken disorder and violence. They are reliant on the slurred word of drunks as to where they've been drinking; for every one who was getting boozed in a bar, another seven consumed their final, unfortunate drink at home or in a public place.

    Despite this, the information is valuable, argues Andrew Smith, the police national coordinator of alcohol harm reduction. It could never be used in court, nor taken to a liquor licensing authority, but if one bar keeps appearing it is somewhere police will take a closer look at.

    Hamilton Police Inspector Karen Henrikson, who oversees safety in the inner city, says most alcohol disorder happens outside, when patrons spill out onto the streets. The Hood was a dim lit bar, attracting a certain demographic that tended to come into contact with police staff, she adds. "We spend a lot of time policing that area because of the potential for things to happen – but to be fair we also go through the Outback, Bar 101 and Furnace." The wrong look or a nudge and things can turn nasty, she says. "That's the geographical problem in Hamilton, you can walk a few metres from one bar to another and that creates the issues – everyone piles out of the bars at the same time and there ends up being a scrap."

    Drunk people are not allowed on licensed premises, they are not allowed to remain there, and they can not be served. But the test of intoxication remains subjective, albeit one helped with a new Intoxication Assessment Tool. For example, allow them in if they appear sensible, even a little relaxed – they are likely sober. Intervene if they are overly-friendly, withdrawn, inappropriate, and annoying – they are probably under the influence. If they are "severely inappropriate", aggressive, and belligerent , then the advise to bar staff is emphatic: Deny service and remove.


    Using the figures obtained under the OIA, a list of the worst bars in New Zealand has been compiled – with some myth-busting results. The cities of Hamilton and Tauranga are over-represented; yet the student Mecca that is Dunedin didn't come close to making the list with its worst-behaved bar's punters eliciting just eight arrests.

    Smaller Marlborough, better known for wine tasting at some of the country's best vineyards, shows an uglier face at some pubs. The Yard Bar in Blenheim took fifth spot on the national roll of shame, and records from Blenheim District Court paint a grim picture. In April this year, local woman Teresa Denise Siggelkow, 38, was being kicked out of The Yard Bar when she punched a staff member in the mouth. When police arrived, a constable was bitten, kicked, and hit for his troubles. Christine Tynan, 29, admitted two charges of assault after she was found her lying drunk on The Yard Bar's floor. Police were called after she attacked an ambulance paramedic trying to help her. When a police officer tried to get identifying details from her, Tynan spat at her.

    In Auckland City, police district prevention manager Inspector Gary Davey says the records of apprehensions provide police an "indicator" of whether a bars is likely to be a problem, though the data could not be relied upon as evidence in a liquor licensing hearing. "You're asking sometimes intoxicated people to tell us where they've been drinking," he says. "The most difficult thing is they may or may not tell you the truth. "It's a nice to know and it's a sort of interesting thing. Personally we would rely more on our knowledge of our bars."

    Auckland's worst bar, with 33 arrests, is owned by a liquor licensing trust that "exists to sell alcohol responsibly". The Trusts, comprised of the Portage and Waitakere Licensing trusts, runs The Hangar in Henderson. Records details some of its hijinks from times past. There was that mass early morning brawl that erupted outside in 2012, with two men stabbed during the ruckus. A trawl through the reviews on the bar's Facebook page also raises some concerns, with several people commenting on the levels of intoxication and atmosphere. "DJs all good," Brendon Johnston wrote. "I like the music but there is way too many fights!!!"

    The Trusts would not be interviewed on the high number of apprehensions as their management said police had not raised the issue with them. A statement from marketing manager Angela Hurst said The Trusts had six weekly meetings with police, Auckland Council and the District Health Board to ensure any problems with their bars were identified early. "Now that the matter has been brought to our attention we will raise it will the police at our next meeting scheduled for next week."

    The Hangar was one of the few Auckland venues that used an ID scanner on entry, she said, plus provided free non-alcoholic drinks for drivers and employed highly-trained duty managers. It hadn't failed a police controlled purchase operation in the past four years.

    There's no question, bar managers spoken to are frustrated. They feel they are being unfairly singled out and blamed for a far bigger problem.


    It's true, problem pubs are not the whole picture. Paul Quigley, a senior doctor in Wellington's emergency department, has figures that paint a worrying picture of drinkers pre-loading on cheap drinks before hitting the bars.

    At the end of nights gone awry, and well before hangovers have set in, it is emergency departments that feel the effects. Of those arriving at the emergency department intoxicated, nine out of 10 had injured themselves while drunk. Most of the alcohol had been drunk prior to going into town. While 45 percent had their last drink in a licensed premises, for most, the majority of the alcohol that night was drunk at home, at a mate's house or somewhere public. But it points to the liquor licensing paradox: bars may not serve intoxicated people but they are serving a product that intoxicates.

    Quigley sees other solutions than tightening the screws further on bars. What he would like to see is off-licence liquor prices increase. Compare the $20 you would pay for a dozen beer at the local supermarket to the roughly two ales you would get out in a city bar and the maths is easy. The nights that truly go off the rails are the the ones spurred by impulse, Quigley says. A few quiet wines at home ends with a late-evening dash to the late-opening bottle store and, too often, hospital is the final call of the night. Off-licences should stop selling at 8 to 9pm and areas around the city with a lot of bars should have no off licenses. While this would inconvenience those living in the city, it would reduce the number of people ducking out of expensive bars to load up on cheap off-licence booze. "Some people have got to take a hit for the greater good."

    Auckland Hospital's emergency department clinical director Anil Nair agrees with Quigley, believing a lot of the problem stems from off-license sales. Intoxicated patients arrived on all days of the week, but it was on Friday and Saturday when things peaked and a security plan was in place with additional resources needed to cope with the problems.


    At Wellington bar Ruby Rabbit, police have cracked down hard and it recently lost its licence. But police figures show just six Ruby Rabbit punters got arrested after nights out there in 2015. Owner Neill Andrews is adamant – despite police claims the data is only used as a guide – that officers used the list of apprehensions in his liquor licensing hearing. What's more, he claims police use the data to influence bar owners before Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority hearings. In his case, that meant telling him they had the arrest numbers in an effort to get him to voluntarily reduce opening hours before going to a hearing, he says. "It's not a far-fetched thing or some conspiracy. It is what they do."

    Certainly, there were stacks of evidence of drunk punters in the bar, even one who leapt out the window of the bar and stood on the roof, leapt on to a bus stop roof, and down to Courtenay Place before being nabbed. There were also the surreal exchanges when police came into the bar, such as the night Andrews apparently got on the loud speaker and told officers, "go collect some glasses for me" and asked, "why are three cops standing in my bar?". But there is other evidence which police brought that has no provable link to Ruby Rabbit.There is the case of the drunk, semi-conscious, vomit-stained man found in December 2015 in a bus stop opposite the bar. Police said they had no way of knowing where he had been drinking but, "the most that could be said is that this is evidence of the type of environment that the premises operates in".

    Wellington's Police harm prevention officer Sergeant Damian Rapira-Davies said the bar names reported to police showed where the last drink served, but not where "drinks one to nine" were consumed before that.


    We visited Tauranga's Bahama Hut – number two on the police list – on Thursday. It is 11pm and the clientele consists of two young guys playing pool and a nosey reporter. Apparently it picks up after midnight, but Friday and Saturday night are the big nights.

    The Bahama Hut, beach themed with surfboards, two swings and a giant palm tree in the middle of the dance floor, is one of only two late-trading venues in Tauranga and the only traditional nightclub. "We're the only party bar," says the barmaid.

    Outside, co-owner Jade Nelson chats to the bouncer. It's not surprising his venue shows up on the police last drinks survey when they are the only club in town, he says. "We work pretty closely with the police, we see them three, four, maybe five times every night. "When you're drinking in here you're in a pretty controlled environment, our guys are constantly looking for intoxication or any signs of it." He is suspicious of the police relying on what drunks tell them. "We turn a lot of people away but they stand out here and make a mess of themselves to the point where they ... get arrested and often the police will say they were in our bar." A lot of people arrive at the club already "tanked up", he adds. "That's the problem I've always had with this last drinks survey, is that it doesn't ask the question of where did you get your first drink?"

    The bigger issues is how we're drinking, Nelson says. "I can go to supermarket, buy two boxes of beer at below cost ... go home and drink all night long until I'm legless, beat my wife up, kick holes in the wall and there's no-one who controls it – that's the broader conversation I think needs to be had."

    7 August 2016
    Source: Sunday Star Times


  1. aemetha
    Why is The Hood in Hamilton the bar whose drunk patrons cause NZ police the most grie

    It's 1am and among the sweaty throng at The Hood bar in Hamilton, a single-file column of neon-vested police marches towards the back wall.

    The officers fan out, fold arms and stare down from an area slightly raised above the dancers – a show of force completely at odds with the young man twirling his girlfriend around the dancefloor and two young women in matching white dresses gyrating in front of the thin blue line. After a couple of minutes, the officers fall into rank again and file out – this time coming to a halt in Victoria St near the bronze statue of Gallipoli war artist Sapper Horace Moore-Jones, from where they keep watch on the bar's drop-off point where taxis spew forth carloads of partygoers from the city's suburbs.

    As Friday night turns into yesterday morning in Hamilton's entertainment hub, the police presence is intended to quell what they say is a problem area. They also plan to oppose Hood's liquor licence, which is currently up for renewal, with alcohol harm prevention officer Jim Kernohan saying they "are aware there are gang members, or associates of gang members that frequent that bar". According to police files, the Hood patrons were apprehended for drunkenness offences 69 times last year – more than any other bar in the country. They admitted consuming their last drink in the bar before being picked up for offences including drink-driving, drunken disorder and violence.

    Inside, there are few denying the bar's underworld attraction. Flight school students Tom and Sam are there for the "the best music in Hamilton" and "good vibes" although Sam, who's from the UK, says the main difference between Hood and his homeland's hang-outs is best summed up in a single word: "gangsters".

    John Lawrenson, the bar's owner, says the 600-odd crowd that turns up at the Hood on a weekend night is largely well behaved but admits a small percentage do cause problems. "There is a crowd of people who want to come to town, who want to cause trouble and unfortunately in Hamilton quite a few of those people have gang associations and we fight an ongoing battle keeping that crowd under control." He says the Hood has never been prosecuted for any breach of licence, bar staff toiled hard to keep an eye on patrons' drinking and more emphasis ought to be put on supermarkets and off-licences. "Where they have had their last drink is irrelevant. Police record every incident. "If someone breaches a liquor ban outside the bar, that goes down as an incident with that bar. People who have been taken out and found to be in breach of bail conditions – that has nothing to do with the bar itself."

    Back at The Hood, the dancefloor is filling up and the police presence is long forgotten. Three friends – Capri, Fiona and Toots – say they have never encountered any problems at the bar and are more interested in finding Capri a man than in spending the night drinking. "He needs to be six-foot-three, and making money," Toots says. "He can be anything, he could be a stripper, as long as he's got the money." Toots reckons they'll be there all night.

    7 August 2016
    Source: Sunday Star Times
  2. aemetha
    Police wrest control of late-night boozing as new figures reveal most troublesome bar

    New Zealand's drinking hours are poised for dramatic cuts in a precedent-setting liquor licensing case.
    Police are attempting to impose a Sydney-style lock-out policy in central Wellington bars. It would put the capital city in line with Whangarei and Tauranga, which already have one-way door policies. Wellington would be the first of the three main centres to toughen controls. The move is seen as setting a national precedent: Auckland police are already lobbying for the same policy from 1am while Christchurch police confirmed they are keeping a close eye on Wellington.

    The case comes as new figures show precisely which bars, in which cities, people visited before being arrested and while senior emergency department doctors call for off-licence hours to be slashed. The Sunday Star-Times and Stuff today reveal the bars topping a list of nearly 1200 licensed premises around New Zealand whose patrons have caused trouble to police.

    The police released the bars' names under the Official Information Act, a list topped by The Hood in Hamilton whose patrons were apprehended for drunkenness offences 69 times last year. They told police they had consumed their last drink in the bar before being up for offences including drink-driving, drunken disorder and violence. Police urge some caution in relying on the numbers, pointing out the information is provided by drunks, but say they find the data useful in identifying which bars to target for education and enforcement.

    In Wellington, police have had enough. At a District Licensing Committee hearing for Courtenay Place bar Siglo in Wellington, they are pushing for the one-way door policy – meaning nobody new could enter the bar after 3am and anyone leaving could not return – despite Wellington City Council rules saying the doors can stay open till 4am. It is understood to be the first Wellington bar on which police have tried to impose a one-way door policy.

    Wellington alcohol harm reduction officer Sergeant Damian Rapira-Davies said police around New Zealand were watching the case closely. "It would be reasonable to expect other parts of the country to follow what happens in Wellington."

    Publican Nick Mills, along with other bar owners on Wellington's strip, opposes the move and accused police of trying to impose the one-way door policy by stealth by picking off bars one by one, with Siglo the first. They have accused police of unfairly targeting bars in an off-the-books effort to force a change to the city's licensing laws.

    But in Sydney, a similar policy has dramatically reduced violence and disorder since it was introduced in 2014 but the hospitality industry has complained of a massive drop in revenue.

    Another bar owner, Matt McLaughlin, said supermarkets were the major culprit in fuelling alcohol-related harm, with the power to buy booze in bulk then sell it as a loss leader. "Imagine if we sold $2 bourbons – we'd be crucified. It's madness." McLaughlin, who owns Wellington's Dirty Little Secret, Four Kings and Electric Avenue, believed the outcome of the Siglo case could usher in the police-backed one-way door policy far more widely. He supported curbing off-licence sales, where he said much alcohol-related harm originated. And certainly, the police apprehensions list shows that for every person apprehended after consuming their last drink in a bar, another seven were drinking at home, in a public place or elsewhere.

    Top emergency department doctors, Anil Nair from Auckland and Paul Quigley from Wellington, agreed police would be better to target off-licences. Quigley, in sentiments echoed by Nair, argued late-selling off-licences allowed a quiet night to impulsively turn bad as people could continue to buy and drink alcohol at home, away from regulated licensed premises.

    Foodstuffs spokeswoman Antoinette Laird said the government had already reduced off-licence trading hours in 2012 to 7am until 11pm. "We think these default hours are reasonable and allow us to adequately meet the needs of our customers, who generally tend to purchase their beer and wine while they are shopping for their other groceries."

    7 August 2016
    Photo: FAIRFAX NZ
    Source: Sunday Star Times
  3. monkeyspanker
    Re: Last chance saloons: Police reveal their secret list of New Zealand's most troubl

    aemetha, thank you for these posts, I was very unaware of the drinking/bar laws in New Zealand, a real eye opener!

    Alcohol is a very destructive drug, legal in just about every corner of the planet. I'm a long time user of alcohol, I've had many moments like some of the above stories when I was younger, I've calmed down very much since I got a bit older, love having a few with friends on my days off (like today) and after a work day.

    The US is waaaay too big to compile such a list however, some of the locals in the individual states should look into these articles. Here in Tucson AZ, home of the great sports mecca of the U of A, we don't just have a few scrapes and a vomit covered drunk in the middle of the road...we get full blown riots when our team loses in a major tournament, very scary my friends and, it's not just here, it's every major city with a university. Alcohol and young people is a very dangerous mix...
  4. aemetha
    Police criticise drunken excess in Wellington CBD

    [IMGR="white"]https://drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=51626&stc=1&d=1470850719[/IMGR]Police have delivered a dramatic account of drunken excess in the party centre of Courtenay Place to the Wellington City Council.

    Councillors were told of arrests for fighting and assaults, as well as people passing out alone in freezing conditions. But they got a conflicting account from the hospitality industry, which argued the dangers were exaggerated.

    The meeting came in the wake of a failed attempt last year to reform central Wellington drinking laws, and councillors were working on a new policy. The briefing started with Wellington city area commander Chris Bensemann describing a patrol last Saturday in Courtenay Place, Wellington's party centre. The inspector was accompanying his officers and did not like what they found. "We would have dealt with probably up to a dozen fights and assaults," he said. "In addition, 10 people were extremely intoxicated."

    Inspector Bensemann then described one case where a young woman was found in what he described as a risky situation. "She was found at the bottom of Blair Street in a doorway," he said. "She would have been 18. It was extremely cold on Saturday night as we all know. "She had become isolated from her friends, was extremely intoxicated and was falling asleep. "All she had on was a slip. I hate to think what would have happened if she had not been found."

    The hospitality industry then weighed in, with Robert Brewer of Spirits New Zealand telling councillors that drinking was becoming less of a problem, not more. "Hazardous drinking especially by young people is coming down and has done for some time. "Overall we are all consuming less alcohol and in fact over the last 10 to 15 years the amount of alcohol available for New Zealanders over 18 has reduced by 25 percent."

    Jeremy Smith of the Hospitality Association told councillors bar owners were taking their responsibility seriously. "People wanting to get into venues know they are not going to get past the doorman if they are intoxicated. "People know that if you want to go out and get into a bar you have to be well behaved. We found inside bars people are better behaved, they are more aware of their friends' behaviour and they do not kick up a fuss if you say listen mate, you have had enough it is time to go."

    These comments will not change policy but will be used by councillors to help develop new rules on alcohol in the central city. A previous attempt to develop a policy was shot down in legal flames last year and the council is basically starting again.

    10 August 2016
    Radio New Zealand
    Photo: Wiki Commons
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