Police CBD blitz to focus on booze violence

Extra police will be stationed across the Illawarra on Friday and Saturday night as part of a trans-Tasman two-day blitz on alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour.

Operation Unite will target licensed premises, transport hubs and public areas throughout Australia and New Zealand.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said officers had been encouraged to enforce the use of "move along, failure to quit, and drunk and disorderly" powers to ensure public safety during the crackdown.

"There will be a stronger police presence across the board," he said.

"Our traffic and highway patrol command will be out in force, as will members of our public order and riot squad, alcohol licensing enforcement command and other specialist units … all in addition to our regular weekend patrols.

"I do not want to sound like a party pooper but when a lot of our work at night is dealing with people drunk and breaking the law, we have to do something about it."

Last time the operation was held, in December last year, 209 people were charged with 381 offences in NSW.

This year's exercise will incorporate a distinctive Illawarra element, with University of Wollongong researcher Professor Sandra Jones working with police to analyse adolescent drinking habits.

Prof Jones, director of the university's Centre for Health Initiatives, said the operation posed questions about an accepted perceived drinking culture in Australia, particularly in younger people.

"The main message of Operation Unite is that if you go out on to the streets and you do get drunk and disorderly, there will be consequences," she said. "But also on a broader community level, this weekend is about having a discussion on why we have come to expect this sort of behaviour as a community and what we do to address it.

"I'm particularly interested in the very young drinkers and the perception that kids aged between 15 and 17 are going out on weekends to get drunk and that's just something we've got to accept.

"It's about having a serious conversation about the kinds of things contributing to these trends - things like the availability of alcohol, the price of alcohol and the way it's produced and marketed in ways that are really appealing to young people."

Mr Scipione echoed Prof Jones's sentiment.

"It's heartbreaking to see young teens roaming the streets of our cities and towns in the middle of the night, full to the gills with alcohol," he said.

"Our officers constantly care for young people who collapse on the streets and black out due to drunkenness. In many cases, parents don't know where their children are … or just don't care."

Meanwhile, police say they clocked a P-plate driver travelling at 198km/h on the F6 at Helensburgh on Sunday.

The teenager was caught about 3.40pm and his licence was immediately suspended, officers said.


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