Police to Auckland Council: 'Step up' and make bars shut

Police to Auckland Council: 'Step up' and make bars shut

Police are calling on Auckland bars to introduce a one-way door policy from 1:30am and close by 3am, following an alcohol-fuelled street brawl at the weekend.

And they want Auckland Council to "step up and do what's right" to make it happen.

Two people were hospitalised and two others arrested following a number of fights in the city centre.

"It's appalling, but I'm not surprised," says Inspector Gary Davey. "I have a library full of this type of violence that happens every weekend."

"To varying degrees, some Thursday nights and most Friday and Saturday nights see alcohol-fuelled violence characterised by serious assaults, fighting and disorder in the early hours of the morning."

Much of the fighting was recorded on cellphones, so witnesses and members of the public who recognise people in the footage have been passing that information onto the police.

"We have had some people phone us and nominate from the video footage various names, and we're following up on that," says Inspector Ross Barnaby.

Auckland Council has proposed a 4am closing time for bars in the city centre, but police want them shut well before then.

"There is a tipping point in the CBD around 1am when the fun and laughter takes a decidedly nasty turn, with intoxication levels increasing and fights and assaults occurring in the same areas in the CBD," says Insp Davey.

"You only need to look at Sydney, which has had similar issues to Auckland, to see what difference a change in closing times can make."

Police say alcohol harm in the CBD dropped by 40 percent when Sydney bars adopted a 3am closing time, as well as not letting anyone enter bars after 1:30am -- once a patron leaves, they can't go back in. Insp Davey wants Auckland's "lockout" to begin at 1am.

"This is what Auckland needs if we want to stop the high numbers of people ending up in our hospitals after a night out. Young people should be able to go out and drink and have a nice time, and not be assaulted and involved in fights."

He says police also want bars outside of the CBD shut at 1am -- Auckland Council's proposal is for 3am.

Insp Barnaby says bars also face prosecution if it's discovered anyone seen fighting in the clips was illegally served alcohol when already intoxicated.

"What we are trying to establish, obviously, from our interviews is, can we identify a bar? And if they have come from a bar we will most certainly be talking to the licensee," he says.

"If we can show that a licensee is serving persons that are intoxicated, we will most definitely be prosecuting them."

Auckland police are investigating "a number of videos", and monitoring social media for leads.

"That's the one good thing about social media and iPhones and things -- everyone tends to video [fights], so it's a matter of collecting all of that and piecing it all together," says Insp Davey.

Police say the two men hospitalised are "improving and should be fine", but "very, very lucky" their injuries weren't life-threatening.

No police were injured in the violence.

Insp Davey says having more police on the beat probably wouldn't prevent the violence from occurring again, because the fights happened right in front of police.

"This isn't an issue about police resources -- we had plenty of police there. It's about reducing the levels of intoxication."