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After successful experiment, ban renewed

SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, Oct. 2, 2008) – New Caledonia’s experimental weekend ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol is to be reimposed for a second weekend, the French High commission announced on Wednesday.

The measure was first introduced in New Caledonia’s capital Nouméa and its close suburbs from Friday 26 September, at 7:00 p.m. until Sunday 28 September, at midnight, on an experimental basis.

But what was first announced as a one-off will now be reconducted, after initial results showed last week’s ban had a very real impact on the small delinquency and alcohol-related crime rate in the areas concerned.

This weekend, the ban is imposed not only on Nouméa but also to its three suburban towns, Dumbéa, Mont-Dore and Païta.

The measure mainly aims at assessing the effectiveness of an alcohol ban to reduce the number of crimes committed in the capital and its suburbs, mostly as a result of open-air drinking sessions by youths.

Similar measures, in the form of a total ban of the sale of alcohol during weekends, were in force in New Caledonia in the 1980s and 1990s, but were later lifted, in the mid-1990s.

However, latest statistics show that the consumption of alcohol has risen by a staggering 72 percent between 1985 and 2007 while, during the same period, the population growth rate was 57 percent.

The current trial ban could become permanent; once authorities are satisfied it is really effective in the long term.

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