14 Dec 2009

Crackdown reduced serious offending- police

11:14 pm on 14 December 2009

Police in Christchurch say the weekend's operation aimed at alcohol-related offending had a significant impact on serious crime.

Operation Unite, which involved police in Australia and New Zealand cracking down on drunken violence, has been described as the largest combined police operation in Australasian history.

Christchurch police arrested 37 people for breaching the liquor ban, fighting and assault on Saturday night.

Area Commander Inspector Derek Erasmus says police were able to reduce serious crime by targetting low level offending before it could escalate.

He says the biggest issue was that people were drunk before they came into the city.

In New Zealand alone, nearly 1200 officers were assigned to work on the operation.

Arrests were made for licensing breaches, assaults and other alcohol related offending.

Of the 36,000 cars checked, 291 drivers were found to be over the alcohol limit.

Across both countries, 1815 arrests were recorded.

The New Zealand police said they were still collating results and a final total would be issued later.

Australia crackdown

In New South Wales, police arrested more than 630 people over two nights and they say officers were "disgusted" at the level of alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour.

New South Wales police laid 1025 charges and caught 374 drink-drivers in 48,162 breath-tests during the two-day crackdown.

Assistant commissioner Frank Mennilli says there were a series of unrelated brawls, a police officer was head-butted and two teenagers were arrested over an assault and robbery.

Initial figures show that in Victoria, police arrested more than 100 people in the Melbourne CBD on Friday night and 204 people for drunkenness on the second night of Operation Unite.

An extra 800 police spent Saturday night patrolling Melbourne and regional centres, including Ballarat and Bendigo.

They banned a further 51 people from the city's CBD because of anti-social behaviour and caught 13 more drink-drivers.