Hospitality industry objects to 'creepy' undercover cops in bars

Hospitality Association chief executive Bruce Robertson

The Hospitality Association is upset over the introduction of plainclothes police staff in Southland pubs to monitor liquor laws.

Chief executive Bruce Robertson says NZ Police contacted liquor licence owners in the region last month to inform them of the policy.

He says there are concerns plainclothes police will scare off customers in the Southland area, and that the policy will be introduced throughout the country.

“Our concerns are twofold; one we think it’s a bit creepy, having undercover police as some might find it uncomfortable.

“We also think it’s a waste of police resources if they sit in a bar for half a night rather than go in uniform to visit a dozen bars.

Mr Robertson says new liquor laws don’t fundamentally change owners' obligations to make sure patrons are over 18 years old and are not intoxicated.

However, he says the penalties are increased as new provisions mean three breaches in two years can mean a liquor licence can be lost for up to five years.

Otago rural prevention manager Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell told local media the initiative provided benefits which traditional police work could not.

''We will be able to observe the behaviours of patrons over a longer period of time and see how a licensee manages this behaviour,'' he said.

"Our plainclothes staff will have a particular focus on intoxication in bars, but they will also note and observe activities surrounding host responsibility and security.''

What do you think? Do you agree with the Hospitality Association that having undercover cops monitoring bars is creepy and intrusive?Click here to vote in our subscriber-only business pulse poll.

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