Wairarapa’s beaches, town centres, and rural areas can expect an increased police presence over the summer season, as high visibility beat operations swing into action.
High-visibility engagement with the public in holiday hotspots “is the common thread through all our prevention activity across the district”, Sergeant Steve Cameron, relieving prevention manager Wairarapa for New Zealand Police, told the Times-Age.
“We want visibility, trust, and confidence. We’re not the moral police. We’re just saying, ‘Go and enjoy yourself. But we will also be around to help you if you need a hand’.”
The beach communities at Castlepoint and Riversdale, where an alcohol ban is in force for the new year period, will be a focus of what police call ‘directed patrols’ every weekend and during the week, Cameron said, particularly on New Year’s Eve.
Public drunkenness, underage drinking, and driving on beaches are some of the behaviours the patrols will be on the lookout for.
“We are out there to first of all educate but then to enforce the rules”, Cameron said, adding that local police’s zero tolerance to alcohol-related incidents should come as no surprise.
“There’s signs up saying there’s an alcohol ban. Where the ban is in place, we do pre-advertising. We’re there all day telling people about the ban.
“If [people] are not going to behave and obey the rules, then sometimes we have little choice but to enforce the regulations.”
Police patrols will be reminding beachgoers of the road rules as well, Cameron said.
“We see a lot of youth on quadbikes. The minimum standard for a quadbike is you must have a learner’s license. And beaches are classed as roads. We will stop youth and check their licenses and the vehicle’s warrant of fitness.
“And if you are driving drunk on the beach, you can be processed for excess breath alcohol.”
Cameron isn’t expecting to see the “pretty intense” level of partying witnessed in 2021, when the lifting of covid-19 restrictions led to “literally hundreds and hundreds of youth drinking in Riversdale and out late at night with no parental control”.
Police have been more present in rural and beach areas since Cyclone Gabrielle, helping with the recovery, which “has built up a really good level of trust” with those communities, Cameron said.
“We stayed out at the beach, lived out there, and worked with the community to sort their issues out.”
Enjoy yourself this summer, Cameron said, “just make sure if you are going to drink alcohol, do it in a private environment. If you give your children alcohol, you’re certainly breaking the law, but you also have a moral obligation to make sure your children are safe.”