A Canterbury university researcher says liquor bans are turning young people into criminals.
David Small says heavy-handed enforcement of bans is part of the reason New Zealand has one of the world's highest imprisonment rates, including the disproportionate rate of Maori imprisonment.
He told Waatea News that three quarters of the people convicted of breaching liquor bans between 2004 and 2008 were under 25 and half were under 21.
He said most had no previous records.
Dr Small said rather than being a criminal offence, having alcohol in a liquor ban area should be treated like a parking offence.