Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Drunk Town

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I was tempted to ask, but stopped for fear of being accused of Brown-bashing. I know a wall of undulating sequins after a hard day’s night can make one a tad queasy, but that’s only a crime against fashion. :)

    I imagine he doesn't get to Family bar a lot. But in context, it did seem that it was the reporter that had the hangup, not the mayor.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22817 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Wow Tom, that's a hellava long draw.

    My first thought was that black-shirted thugs on every corner or not (and I admit I've missed these in China) doesn't alcohol make you do unwise things regardless of the downstream? Like driving your car. It's taken decades to ram home that message in New Zealand and it's still subverted by a glass too many.

    Secondly, I've lived in South East Asia and travelled the region extensively over the past 7 1/2 years and Chris & Chris & Linger's words travel.

    I lived 5 years in Bali, where the Balinese drink heavily - mostly arak and beer - but never in those years did I witness Balinese instigated booze fuelled random violence of the sort you see in Auckland every weekend night. Mostly the damage they do is getting into a car or onto a bike and totalling themselves as a result (there are no drink-driving laws enforced).

    In Muslim Java they drink - quietly - and mostly the local spirits which make the country the second biggest producer of whiskey/whisky in the world. You've not lived until you've tried bootleg Jack - or maybe you won't live long after you have.

    They don't as a habit hit each other as a result. You just don't see it at all.

    Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia: same.

    Here in Thailand, man do they drink. The local spirits are cheap, vicious, rocket fuel (750 l of Mekong is about $5, Absolut is a about $25 a litre in the 7/11) and vast cheap family beer gardens are a traditional part of the culture.

    They get well pissed - so much so that you legally can't buy booze from 2 to 5pm, and they have to ban booze sales on election days to ensure people don't forget to vote - but they don't hit each other. Once again, the damage is on the highways.

    The people that do hit each other seem to be inevitably Australasians - not even the scourge of Europe, the British, do it as we do.

    In Bali, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam we are notorious for it. We get drunk, we get in fights. We get arrested. Over and over and over - the media is full of it and you have to hang your head sometimes. As a result, the respect level is low and we're not seen as socially civilised people.

    So why do we do that? 'Cos we're free?

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I imagine he doesn’t get to Family bar a lot. But in context, it did seem that it was the reporter that had the hangup, not the mayor.

    I thought so - anyone that severely traumatized by a flash of sequined drag queen (so to speak) wouldn't survive an afternoon door-knocking in South Auckland. Or three seconds in line of sight of Miss Buckwheat. and Miss Bertha.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • dcnbwz,

    Sorry, probably a bit late........but I believe it would be a great deterrent if any perpetrators of violence of any kind (particularly those who believe it's okay if it's only one punch) to be forced to visit long term head injury patients in the care surroundings.

    Show them what happens to someone with a serious head injury.

    Show them what happens to someone in a brawl, or someone who only got hit once and then hit the concrete head first.

    Show them someone who has had to live with a serious head injury for twenty years. Show them the effects on the families of these people.

    I'd like to think a lot of people would change their ways after that........or maybe I'm just being naive.

    uk • Since Sep 2009 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Sorry about what happened to your mates - I have yards of weird, droll and tragic stories from working nights.

    One – I drove into a guy who was stamping on another guys head a she lay prone in the gutter corner of Queen and Mayoral Drive – just nudged the stamper over with the “means of transportation” I was driving at the time - I had to drive through a red light to do it – the guy having the shit kicked out of him was a completely innocent party who was just walking up Queen Street. When others and I got there he was bleeding from everywhere and his head was swollen and out of shape I couldn’t even say what he looked like it was so bad. The Police arrived and got the assailant who had come back to give the poor guy another bash – the Police were so quick and onto it and ran the assailant down at the bottom of the town hall – the Police arrived before the ambulance and they were great.

    Another incident two seriously dangerous drunks were hassling the staff and dinners at a restaurant, when the owner arrived they dragged him out onto the pavement and were beating him – I intervened and called the police – when they arrived the thugs had gone – so I went with the Police for a drive around and we found them – the police questioned them and then said they couldn’t do anything because they didn’t have a written complaint – So I said OK give me piece of paper and I’ll give you one – reluctantly they did and I wrote it out on the bonnet of the cop car whilst they arrested the thugs who abused the shit out of me and made threats – one of the cops was slightly annoyed that I had persisted – I found out the guys did get convicted as the other cop phoned me to tell me the outcome.

    So it is a mixed bag –we can’t expect police to be perfect – but I do expect them to be largely competent which is what I have found them to be - but you have to be guarded all the same.

    Really the problem is our poor behavior towards each other – and that includes the political sphere (as well) the behavior of which has been disgusting of late - and the availability of liquor outlets.

    Look at the inane and spiteful nature of political debate of late – the tone of governance is pretty low. But I digress.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    More about where they're deployed, and how.

    That is what I was alluding to when talking about perhaps there were less Police about when it mattered.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • dcnbwz, in reply to DexterX,

    That just makes me feel sick. And sad.

    Seriously - what DO people expect will happen if they jump on someone's head repeatedly? The answer is clearly a) They're not thinking at all and b) They're not thinking at all and don't care.

    Good on you Dexter for reporting these too, that can be dangerous in itself.

    uk • Since Sep 2009 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    And here's a blast from the past. Is there an emerging "New Zealand disease" related to the "English disease"?

    Kapka Kassabova: The unbearable lightness of being English

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to DexterX,

    . . . a guy who was stamping on another guys head . . .

    Good on you DexterX.
    The kind of incidents you're describing were reportedly pretty standard in Saturday night downtown Chch before the earth moved. When "urban vision" consisted of little more than opening more bars to be fed by live drunk transporters ("party buses"), head stompers obligingly indulged themselves within sight of the police kiosk in Cathedral Square.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4592 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    No but it does revoke your ability to carry on the trade you are committed to. And that is hard; it can destroy a lifetime's worth of work in an afternoon.

    Generally I am not a big believer in regulatory red tape arguments, but I do think that where you need a license to carry on a business it is worth looking seriously at the consequences of taking away that license, or curtailing that business, and understanding that it is actually a hugely punitive action that needs to be dealt with carefully, and not just as an easy way of getting tough.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    And for situations like this, there's no substitute at all for duty cops on the beat. Is there any reason against it, apart from a Treasury white paper?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    that is hard; it can destroy a lifetime’s worth of work in an afternoon.

    So? If you're so thoroughly invested, just keep to the rules. Check ID religiously, keep an eye on your staff to make sure they also take it seriously, and make sure your employment contracts are written so that employees who fail to check ID can be swiftly dismissed. It's not hard to comply with the rules on selling booze, it's really not.

    As for not being an easy way to get tough, the whole reason for liquor licensing existing at all is to control the sale of alcohol. The only way to get tough on supply is to get tough on those who are allowed to supply. You can get tough on the purchasers, sure, but they wouldn't be purchasing if there weren't suppliers who're also breaking the law.

    Breaking the law must attract consequences, otherwise what's the point in having the law at all? We automatically suspend the driver's licences of people who are convicted of driving drunk, for a first offence, for six months. I would suggest that attacking a person's ready mobility is a much greater penalty than ordering someone to stop selling a toxic, controlled substance that is responsible for significant social harm, but we do it by default.

    I would suggest that you have a read of this.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    We automatically suspend the driver's licences of people who are convicted of driving drunk, for a first offence, for six months.

    Good point. How is a fourth offence by a liquor outlet not comparable?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    And for situations like this, there’s no substitute at all for duty cops on the beat.

    All the main cities have foot patrols on "party nights". Auckland has several pairs of cops walking the beat around Queen Street, as well as the various vehicle patrols. However, they can't be everywhere and it only takes one brawl to soak up most of the ready resources. When people are getting into fights while police officers are right across the road, it's clear that short of total saturation it's not the presence or absence of foot patrols that makes a difference.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Sacha,

    Good point. How is a fourth offence by a liquor outlet not comparable?

    How is a first offence not comparable? A third DUI is mandatory suspension for a minimum of a year, and some combination of up to a $6k fine and/or two years in jail. You don’t even have to cause harm (that will net you a whole heap of other, more-serious, consequences), you just have to get caught. The default position for DUI is that you’re presenting a danger to society, and must be forbidden to continue to do so. We accept that alcohol is dangerous, but it’s clear that there’s not the same attitude towards removing offenders’ access to continue the harm when they supply alcohol in breach of their licence conditions.

    ETA: Selling to minors is financially profiting from criminal activity. I could make a case that we should be seizing these outlets and selling them as proceeds of crime.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Auckland has several pairs of cops walking the beat around Queen Street, as well as the various vehicle patrols. However, they can't be everywhere and it only takes one brawl to soak up most of the ready resources.

    Someone suggested (online somewhere recently, can't recall) using the same approach as New Years Eve hotspots like Whangamata for downtown Auckland and Welli - build extra holding pens and without tying up street staff, use quick processing to triage any who need medical help. The rest spend an uncomfortable night away from the fun, then are released without charge so there's little staff time on paperwork. Rinse and repeat.

    Our cops seem pretty happy to deploy arrest-and-release on legitimate street protestors, so why not troublesome violent drunkards? And if it's wrong for them, then stop locking up anyone waving a banner inconveniently.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Selling to minors is financially profiting from criminal activity. I could make a case that we should be seizing these outlets and selling them as proceeds of crime.

    good point.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Sacha,

    Someone suggested (online somewhere recently, can’t recall) using the same approach as New Years Eve hotspots like Whangamata for downtown Auckland and Welli – build extra holding pens and without tying up street staff

    I took the "tag and release" idea a bit further by suggesting utilisation of the "Alcatraz" pens used for Whangamata in New Years Eves past. The cells would have to be somewhat more substantial, as they would be used year-round rather than just during a Coromandel summer, but if we can house prisoners in shipping containers for long periods of time there's no reason that something less-substantial couldn't be used for creating overnight holding pens for drunks to sober up.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    but if we can house prisoners in shipping containers for long periods of time

    We used to hang people for stealing bread too. Or should I say sometime in our past "we" did. Anyway not a good starting or comparison point. The problems are historical, geographical, cultural and social in various combinations. But that makes most peoples heads spin, you know actual causes, so nothing changes

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    ETA: Selling to minors is financially profiting from criminal activity. I could make a case that we should be seizing these outlets and selling them as proceeds of crime.

    I remember not all that long ago that a couple of liquor dealers apocryphally cited the excuse of gang intimidation, for selling to the under-aged. And I say apocryphally, because to this day, there's no police evidence for it.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to andin,

    the prison thing is current rather than ancient

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to andin,

    Not sure of your point, TBH. We have prisoners in shipping containers right now, and if we can do it for long-term inmate housing I don't see why we couldn't use the same principle to come up with low-cost holding cells for getting drunks off the streets. Police stations already have "drunk tanks", but not enough to be useful if we reinstated the offence of public drunkenness. The logistics of securely-but-safely housing those arrested for such offence would limit its application in the absence of a significant increase in the available facilities.

    And for the record, I'm not especially opposed to the idea though I do have reservations about its application. An automatic night in the cells for fighting in public would probably have something closer to the desired offence, especially if coupled with a moderate Summary Offences Act fine.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    An automatic night in the cells for fighting in public

    Seems better targeted than merely for being drunk. Belligerence and abusive behaviour is the main public safety issue. I'd rather also address that with therapy, but removing the immediate risk of harm seems appropriate.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    closer to the desired offence

    That would be desired effect.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Ah my point! human behaviour mmm all kinds of things pop up. things we never thought of so it comes to contingence planning, figuring in a lot of what ifs. A few years down the way, scratching of heads, as something authorities hadnt factored toddles along. Yeah as someone said its the way we're drinking, isnt there a longer term way of facing this, than throw 'em in a drunk tank for the night.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

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