Information released under the Official Information Act last week has highlighted the effect pre-drinking is having on Southerners.
The Alco-Link data reveals that the majority of intoxicated offenders are drinking at home before going out, raising questions about the relationship between pre-drinking and disorder in the community. The information shows a trend in the last three years for alcohol consumption at home having lead to the bulk of those arrested whilst drunk.
Alcohol Harm Reduction Officer Sergeant Ian Paulin told Critic that the Police are seeing the prevalence of house parties rising, with police attending three to four parties daily during this year’s Orientation Week. Rather than the criminal activity highlighted in the Alco-Link report, the police are finding the uncontrolled drinking to cause issues like intoxication and broken bottles. However, Sergeant Paulin notes the overall decline of offenders who have consumed their last alcoholic drink in a private residence over the past three years.
Asked whether the closure of Student Bars over the past years have had any impact, Sergeant Paulin asserts that drinking at home and the associated uncontrolled drinking has long been an issue but that “We do see more uncontrolled parties since student bars have closed, which can lead to more alcohol-related harm.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne rejects the idea that the closing of student drinking establishments has had an effect on preloading or on student misbehaviour. Hayne instead highlights remiss liquor laws as increasing the prevalence of binge drinking in private residences.
Otago University has continued to strongly lobby for “meaningful changes to our liquor laws, such as raising the price of alcohol, and cutting down on the number of off-licences”. However, off-license premises continue to offer easily obtainable alcohol cheaper than licensed premises.
Proctor Dave Scott told Critic that he was in agreement with the University’s stance that the excessive pre-drinking identified in the report stems from particularly lax liquor laws.