Undercover police to mix with revellers

Sunday Star-Times, 28 December 1997

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PLAINCLOTHES police will mingle with crowds to identify and remove troublemakers from traditional New Year party spots this week.

More than 100 police will be on hand to control the thousands of people pouring into the Coromandel to try to stop a repeat of the riots which spoiled festivities at Whangamata last year.

Inspector Steve Christian said he hoped matters would not get out of control this time as there was a liquor ban throughout the holiday period. People found with alcohol on the streets could be arrested, though it was likely a more passive approach would be taken at first. Plainclothes officers would join revellers to clamp down early on any potential trouble.

Police at Mt Maunganui would also use the tactic. The Mount had been trouble- free for three years, but police said there was always potential for drunk people to turn nasty. "You can't predict what the mood of any crowd will be. We just have to put plans into place to ensure everyone has a good time," said Senior Sergeant Merv Mist. There is an alcohol ban at the Mount's beach areas until January 5.

Police have also enlisted the co-operation of hoteliers and Dominion Breweries. On New Year's Eve hotels will only sell beer in plastic bottles and DB is encouraging people to buy beer in plastic bottles by selling it at special rates.

Nelson police hope the peaceful festivities of recent years will continue. Special operations were set up for Nelson city, Takaka, Mapua and Kaiteriteri, traditional holiday spots.

The Gathering, an annual dance party, will again be held at Takaka. Senior Sergeant Selwyn Law said it had become a family oriented event in recent years and no trouble was expected.

Queenstown and nearby Wanaka, where riots were once an annual event, were also expecting another noisy but reasonably trouble-free New Year's Eve party. Sixty-four officers, up from the standard 30, would be on duty in Queenstown. Hotels now had to close 2.30am and have their patrons out by 3am which would help police keep control, a spokesman said. And at Wanaka, police had encouraged the 20-odd licencees to provide entertainment to keep drunken patrons off the street.

Barry Clarke, Sunday Star-Times, 28 December 1997

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