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July 28, 2008 | by  | in News |
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Police ready to pounce on any Undieground activity

North Dunedin will be under a liquor ban for all of August, but police say it will only be enforced in the event of an influx of Undie 500 “revellers.”

The Undie 500, an annual under-$500-car rally and party between Christchurch and Dunedin, caused uproar last year when riots broke out. 69 participants were arrested in Dunedin.

Inspector Dave Campbell says the police are monitoring Facebook “and things like that,” and the Campus Cop at Canterbury University is talking with organisers so they will know well in advance of a convoy of Cantabrians coming. He says the weekend of 22 August is the likely date.

“You have to give a certain amount of notification because at the time we made the application [to the Dunedin City Council] we weren’t sure when the Undie 500 was going to go ahead,” he says. “So that’s the reason why we asked for all of August but [we] only intend to implement it if an Undie 500 goes ahead.”

He says the liquor ban will be just one tool in preventing a repeat of last year. “Basically if people are congregating in large numbers on the street and we want to clear them – if they are drinking it would give us the ability to arrest them.”

Campbell says that students will know in advance that the ban will be enforced. He said that if someone complained about public drinking outside of the weekend, the police would ignore it.

Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) President Simon Wilson says the liquor ban would be a good tool to have in place for any Undie 500 weekend but is worried students won’t have adequate warning.

“You can’t [give a warning] by finding out two or three days in advance that the Undie 500 is this weekend and slamming a liquor ban down,” Wilson says. “It’s not fair on the people it’s going to affect. I support what they are trying to do in controlling the Undie 500, but they have to be fair on students and publish widely when it is going to be.” Campbell is confident that students will be in the know. He says police would likely email everyone on the University mailing list.

“But at the end of the day, whilst you offer to give warnings, experience has been that if you just warn people, then people ignore the provision. Because they figure that if they’re going to get a warning, they’ll just drink until they get warned,” he says.

“It depends if people are obviously unaware [or] if they’re just being smart. We’ll be letting the crowd know there is a liquor ban in place. If somebody just turned up, that might be tough for them, but I guess their friends would let them know there is a liquor ban in place.”

“If there is a sole student walking down a backstreet in a back area then clearly, they might not be aware and that might be an appropriate situation for a warning.”

Liquor Licensing Coordinator Kevin Mechan is confident that the unorthodox plan will work. “It comes down to the credibility of the police whether they stick to their side of the bargain,” he says. “I have no reason to doubt that they will.”

Otago University student magazine Critic asked him if how the liquor ban will ensure that there is no repeat of last year. “Pass. I think one of the big things will be, [the police told me] it probably won’t make any difference to last year but what it does do is acknowledge that the huge majority of students are sensible anyway and they’re pretty much going to play by the rules,” he says.

“It’s just these louts that we’re putting a message out to that that sort of behaviour isn’t going to be tolerated … And it gives the police the power to do something about it.”05

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  1. Glen Williams says:

    SWEET! Free publicity for any event that causes a public disturbance – the police and their warning will make sure no student misses the Undie-500!! Maybe it will be a bigger brawl than last year ;-P

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