Bottle shops blitzed

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Kids were able to buy booze from half of the 16 bottle shops and bars they visited as part of a Queenstown police sting.

Teenagers, backed by cops, visited 13 off-licence premises and three on-licences across the resort in late June. They were served booze in eight.

Last year, only one of 38 premises visited was caught out.

Three of those hit in June – Arrowtown Wine Store, Queenstown Liquor Centre and Super Liquor Remarkables Park – were forced to close for 48 hours last weekend as punishment.

Managers Carole Sinclair, of Arrowtown Wine Store, and Balroop Singh Lamba, of Queenstown Liquor Centre, are also both suspended for 28 days from last Monday. The Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority is processing the cases of the other five premises and duty managers, and also Super Liquor’s duty manager.

Neither Sinclair, who owns the Arrowtown business, Queenstown Liquor Centre bosses would talk to Mountain Scene

But the Super Liquor Remarkables Park boss, who did not want to be named, says: “It’s unfortunate circumstances – it was a new staff member.

“We do a lot of training when we hire about ID-ing anyone who looks under 25, and that training’s ongoing

“But you’ve constantly got staff turning over because of the nature of Queenstown. You’ve got to hope they’ll do what’s required and ask customers for ID.”

Still, the boss says it’s not acceptable Super Liquor and so many premises failed.

And she says the 48-hour weekend closure hit the business hard in the pocket.

Queenstown booze-harm pre-vention officer Sergeant Tracy Haggart says the cops don’t consider this a “successful” operation as youngsters were served.

In a ‘controlled purchase operation’ late last year, teenagers visited 17 bottle shops and seven bars.

Only one served them. In the operation before that, in April 2016, 21 premises were visited with no sales.

Haggart says duty managers and staff need to ensure no one under 18 can buy booze by ID-ing everyone who looks younger than 25.

Operations will continue, she says.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz