A police spokeswoman this week confirmed all five complainants were visitors to Wanaka and the five alleged assaults occurred either on New Year’s Eve or the early hours of New Year’s Day.
The confirmation follows information supplied in mid-March, following an Official Information Act request, that 15 reports of ‘‘sexual assaults and related offending’’ were reported to Otago Lakes Central Police stations in Wanaka, Queenstown, Alexandra and Cromwell during December last year and January this year.
On January 1, The News reporters in Wanaka received anecdotal information about reported sexual offending from New Year’s Eve, but had not been able to confirm numbers or specific locations with police at the time.
The News requested the number of unique victim reports of ‘‘sexual offending and related offences’’ for the two weeks between December 24 and January 6 but that level of detail was not available.
‘‘Please note that police publishes statistics based on months of year and not for specific dates or period,’’ Chris Kelley of the Te Waipounamu Information Requests Team said.
An ACC spokesman said this week that the majority of survivors of sexual violence take months or years before contacting ACC to discuss sensitive claims.
ACC’s location data for sensitive claims related to where the client lived, not where the incident happened, so he could not provide data on reported sexual offences in Wanaka over the New Year period.
The most frequently reported offences in the wider Otago Lakes Central police area were indecent assaults of females over 16 (five in December) and male rapes female over 16 (five in January).
Two of the 15 complainants over the two-month period were males.
Mr Kelley said police were continuing investigations into five of the December cases and six of the January cases.
Two December cases had resulted in court action, and two from January had resulted in no outcome.
The News asked Wanaka Senior Sergeant Kim Chirnside this week if police had been aware that more people than usual were in distress at New Year in Wanaka, or complaining of inappropriate behaviour towards them, or spooked by unwanted attention from others.
Snr Sgt Chirnside referred questions to the police media team.
‘‘This is not something police is aware of or has any way of measuring, but police are concerned about the reports of sexual offending we did receive and these have been investigated and taken seriously,’’ a police spokeswoman said.
The News asked if police had other concerns, such as alcohol consumption, event organisation, or youth drinking trends; and what would they like partygoers and their families and friends to think about to stay safe at Wanaka’s next New Year gathering.
The police spokeswoman said young people consuming alcohol at New Year was not a new thing, and remained a concern for police in the Wanaka area. ‘‘We are aware the occasion can be young people’s first time in an environment where there is little parental supervision and unrestricted access to alcohol.
‘‘This can lead to young people being more likely to make poor decisions and potentially becoming perpetrators and/or victims of assault or other crime.
‘‘Police would urge parents to know where their young people are and what sort of access to alcohol they have.
‘‘We understand New Year’s Eve is a celebration and parents and young people alike want to let their hair down. However, we also want people to be safe and feel safe.
‘‘We would remind people to stick to their limits when it comes to alcohol, and look out for each other. Also remember that if a person is intoxicated they are not in a position to consent to sexual activity,’’ the police spokeswoman said.
Asked if police or other agencies they worked with were busy or overwhelmed by the number of people needing help for sexual health/assault concerns on New Year’s Eve in Wanaka, the police spokeswoman said police deployed extra officers for occasions like New Year’s Eve, and ‘‘. . .providing a supportive response to victims who make reports to police is our top priority.’’