Publicans are calling for roving bouncers fitted with chest-cams to police the town centre.
Queenstown Alcohol Accord, which represents 31 downtown bars, wants two ‘fully-licensed security guards’ to patrol the whole CBD with cameras and radio.
The accord committee wants the local council to fork out the $25,000 cost of what’s being called the ‘CBD Security Night Patrol’.
Bar baron Mike Burgess, chairman of the seven-person accord committee, says: “I think it’s a great initiative and those who want a safer community at night should be for it.
“It’s an extra level of safety.”
Queenstown’s council doesn’t comment on annual plan submissions under consideration.
But NZ Council for Civil Liberties committee member Kevin McCormack warns there should be tight rules for such a scheme, should it go ahead.
The patrollers would operate on Fridays and Saturdays, 10pm-4am, over seven months - December to March and June to August.
Under the proposal, they will:
“Assist” door staff and police in a large altercation or incident
Gather video evidence of lawbreakers
Identify people unsuitable to be admitted to bars, and share that with police and door staff
Reduce violent confrontations by providing a security presence and warning people about the CCTV system
Educate people on liquor bans and penalties
Asked whether security guards could be a source of more conflict, Burgess says: “More security potentially means more safety, so I’d suggest there’d be less conflict.
“It’ll assist in identifying trouble-makers and those who are intoxicated.
“Then police can be alerted and those people dealt with.”
NZ Council for Civil Liberties’ McCormack says rules could include how the guards act “when they encounter persons or incidents that need to be referred to the police”.
He says the application makes no mention of the principles that underpin the use of cameras, “and no mention of any rules for use [of cameras], access to data, security of data and retention of data”.
McCormack says there’s also no mention of prior discussions with police, council and Public Health South, and their attitude towards the proposal.
“It also appears that the QAA considers that this is a function the [council] ought to fund, rather than the QAA.”
Mountain Scene emailed Queenstown senior sergeants Paula Enoka and John Fookes and the national media team. They were asked if police support the scheme, whether there are concerns about individuals with less training than police patrolling the streets, whether the extra security is needed and whether it could lead to a reduction of officers.
In a statement emailed from Wellington, Fookes says: “Police support taking a partnership approach to reducing alcohol harm in Queenstown.
“Queenstown police are currently working on submissions for council looking at the effect of alcohol on the community and possible steps that could be taken to reduce harm.”