Booze bash blemish


A quarter of all crimes involving victims in Queenstown Lakes district over the past two years were assaults.

Crime stats released by New Zealand Police show what many in the town already know anecdotally – boozy violence is one of the resort’s main problems.

Of the 1827 crimes with victims since November 2014, some 457 were violent attacks – with only 53 of those in Wanaka.

Sixty-five were serious assaults in which someone was injured.

Another 66 were serious assaults not resulting in injury and 326 were common assaults.

Senior sergeant John Fookes says assaults are high proportionally because Queenstown has less general crime, such as burglaries.

“That said, obviously it’s of concern to us anytime there’s an offence.

“With assaults, alcohol is almost always a feature.”

Fookes says the majority of assaults are late at night or in the early hours.

“A good way of saying it is if you’re not affected by alcohol, your chances of being assaulted or assaulting someone are actually very very low.”

The police run various programmes aimed at reducing drunken violence and crime – including regular bar visits and education campaigns such as ‘Don’t be that guy’ posters.

“With education, we’re often stymied to a certain degree by the fact some of these people are here for a short amount of time.

“It’s not like other areas, where you can educate the locals with a message all the time.

“But what we can do is work with those involved in the sale and supply.”

The stats, released through NZ Police’s new online data tool, do however show Queenstown Lakes district is a remarkably safe place to live.

The 457 people who were victims of assault represent about 0.01 per cent of the more than four million visitors and residents over the two years.

Robbery is practically non-existent with only nine in two years.

Only two cars were stolen permanently and only two people were victim to blackmail or extortion.

In total, 124 people had someone illegally use their motor vehicle though (joy riding, taking without consent) while 37 had people illegally use their property.

The stats don’t show many motoring offences, such as drink-driving, drug offences, or other crimes without identifiable victims such as disorderly behaviour.

There were, however, 11 victims of aggravated sexual assault and 11 victims of non-aggravated sexual assault.

Thefts represent the majority of crimes with victims – some 947, while there were also 229 burglaries or attempted burglaries.

Thefts break down into general theft (546), theft from a person without force (nine), shoplifting (248), theft of a motor vehicle (two), and theft of motor vehicle parts or contents (142).

Fookes says it’s generally a safe place to live.

“But I think we have an issue with people becoming intoxicated and that results in other issues, such as assaults.”

Crime with victims by area

Queenstown Bay – 525
Queenstown Hill – 460
Wanaka – 328
Frankton – 114
Outer Wakatipu – 61
Frankton East – 49
Hawea – 48
Matukituki – 45
Arrowtown – 44
Sunshine Bay – 44
Jack’s Point – 21
Kelvin Heights – 15
Wakatipu Basin – 14
Glenorchy – 11
Arthurs Point – 10
Lake Hayes South – 8
Lake Hayes – 8
Lake Wakatipu – 8
Lake Wanaka – 7
Kingston South – 7

No record of booze cases at hospital

While alcohol-related harm is a major focus for police, health officials can’t say how many people admitted to the emergency room have been drinking.

Southern District Health Board communities boss Dr Stephen Chalcroft says there’s “survey evidence” which suggests high rates of booze-related ‘presentations’ at the ER.

“[However] at present, it is not mandatory for staff to record when alcohol and/or drugs are a factor in presentations to emergency departments and so this information is not reliably gathered.”

That will change next year. The Ministry of Health will require DHBs to provide that information.

“So data capture will improve.”