MEDIA STATEMENT FROM Communities Against Alcohol Harm – 11 May 2017
LIQUOR STORES MUST TAKE MORE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY IN FACE OF ROBBERIES
There have been a number of reports recently in the media about robberies of liquor stores in Mangere and Otahuhu.
Most recent was the robbery at Liquorland Mangere Bridge.
“While we are alarmed at this and say that the violence and robberies cannot be condoned in any way, there is a lot that liquor stores could be doing to take more responsibility for their own safety in the face of these robberies”, says David Ratu, Chair of Communities Against Alcohol Harm.
“Our organisation together with many individuals, schools, Maori Wardens and other community groups have been pleading with the Auckland District Licensing Committee over the past three years to reduce the harm from alcohol.”
“Applications for new liquor store licences kept being made, often by people who own multiple stores already. We have asked that no new liquor store licences be granted in our communities. We have repeatedly said there are already too many, often located in isolated neighbourhood sets of shops. Because of their isolation, they are now being preyed upon by these robbers.”
Instead, the Auckland Council District Licensing Committee has kept granting new licences. They say there has been no evidence to show there is a problem. The Police, Medical Officer of Health and Auckland Council Inspectors have also almost always not opposed new liquor stores.
“Our communities have also repeatedly asked the Auckland Council District Licensing Committee to set earlier closing hours. But most liquor store owners have demanded that they be allowed to stay open to 11pm every night. If they closed earlier, say at 9pm around the time all the other shops in the area were closing, then they might be safer.”
Instead, the Auckland Council District Licensing Committee has generally accepted the demands of the liquor store owners and let them stay open to 11pm
The Auckland Council has also tried to set closing hours for all liquor stores in Auckland at 9pm through its Local Alcohol Policy, but this been strongly opposed by representatives of the liquor stores and supermarkets.
“Our communities have also repeatedly asked the Auckland Council District Licensing Committee to ensure liquor stores abide by the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.”
The CPTED Guidelines at page 19 say: “There should be at least 50% transparency in the front of the premises so there is good visibility to and from the premises and the street.”
The media photo of Liquorland Mangere Bridge shows it tends towards the example having obstructed visibility into the store.
“Again, our communities have been repeatedly asking for 50% visibility as set by the CPTED Guidelines and raising questions about whether liquor stores can lawfully ‘board up their front glazing’”. The Auckland Council District Licensing Committee has been generally good at requiring this when communities have asked, but liquor stores have been very reluctant to voluntarily improve their frontages.”
“The Indian Association of NZ and a Crime Prevention Group say they want increased police patrols, police stations reopened, a right for shop owners to defend themselves, and heavier penalties for resellers of stolen goods.”
“We strongly believe there are measures the store owners can voluntarily make to improve their safety. They can close much earlier at 9pm on Friday and Saturdays, and 6pm very other night. They can comply fully with the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Guidelines and have no boards over their windows. And they could volunteer to stop asking for any further off-‐ licences (or oppose them) and perhaps even close down some of the 30-‐odd liquor stores in Mangere-‐Otahuhu (where frankly, there are already too many).
David Ratu Chair, Communities Against Alcohol Harm