A central Wellington supermarket has been accused of being “willfully blind” to years of drunken violence in its car park after hours, including a 30-man brawl just weeks ago.
The car park at New World Wellington City, generally known as Chaffers New World, on Wakefield St has become such a hub for alcohol abuse, fights, theft and disorderly conduct after dark on weekends that police have dubbed it and Blair St “Wellington’s crime corridor”.
New World’s liquor licence is now under threat as a result. It sought a renewal from the Wellington District Licensing Committee on Friday but police raised serious questions about whether it should be granted.
Once the supermarket is closed, surely it is the responsibility of the Police to deal with crime in the carpark, and has nothing to do with the supermarket?
Police told the licensing committee that the majority of those at fault were “young” people either pre-loading before heading to bars in Wellington’s CBD, or side-loading between visits to pubs on Friday and Saturday nights.
In the 12 months since June 2014, the car park was the scene of 30 violence and disorder callouts, 18 alcohol-related harm callouts and 12 theft callouts, excluding shoplifting)
In the early hours of October 11, Police were called to quell a large fight involving up to 30 people.
Two Wellington police officers said they had been raising concerns about the car park since 2013 but their impression was that the store did not care what happened after closing, and was only prepared to do “the minimum” to address it.
Young people go to large open spaces – whether it be car parks or parks. Again why is the supermarket responsible for what happens when they are closed?
Wellington City New World director Gary Baker said he was only made aware of the car park issues in December 2014, and had been working with police to solve the problem since then.
Two extra security cameras had been installed in the car park, the lights were now left on overnight and security guards had been employed after hours.
Chaining up the car park was problematic because some staff, like shelf-fillers and bakers, worked outside of trading hours and it could be dangerous if they had to park further away, Baker said.
The majority of alcohol being consumed in New World’s car park after hours was not purchased at the supermarket, although some of it was, police said.
So if most of the alcohol is purchased elsewhere, again why scapegoat New World?