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News - 9 February 2008

Teen drinking means street drinking

Since the Government clamped down on licensees and off-licensees regarding under-aged (teen) drinking has the problem simply moved on to the streets?

This has been a problem in Brighton where there is a high youth population. Youngsters end up drinking on street corners, in parks and in alleyways and are a danger to themselves and others if they become inebriated.

In recognition of this growing national trend the Government has issued new tougher powers to the police and has called for parents and industry to play their part to prevent young people drinking and to reduce the damage caused by alcohol to individuals and communities.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith addressed an audience of police and local authority licensing officers, representatives from the drinks and retail industries, community pressure groups and other frontline practitioners, and described a package of measures to tackle alcohol related crime and disorder. They included:

  • a major new £875,000 national crack down by police to confiscate alcohol from under-18 year olds drinking in public;
  • extra powers for police, where necessary, to make it clear that it is unacceptable for children to drink in public;
  • wider use of Parenting Contracts where poor parenting is identified as an issue when alcohol is confiscated from underage drinkers;
  • a new multi-million pound Government public information campaign to launch this summer setting out the dangers associated with binge drinking, and raising awareness on recommended units of intake and the dangers of regularly exceeding those levels; and
  • an independent review of how well industry standards on responsible sales are being met across the alcohol retail industry.

Jacqui Smith said, "There is a lot of good work being done to tackle the damage that alcohol misuse can do to individuals, to the people around them, and to the communities they live in. But I want to go further.

"Government must lead the way and I am determined to use all the powers at my disposal to bring about change. But in order to do this we also need the support of industry, enforcement authorities and communities. We all need to meet our responsibilities to make a difference.

Police must have all the powers they need to make groups of young people drinking in public a thing of the past. A new campaign to confiscate alcohol from underage drinkers begins this month and lessons will be learned from it. At the same time we will continue to punish those few irresponsible retailers that flout the law by persistently selling to children.

"Parents must play their part as well and we will give parents whose children are drinking the support they need to change their damaging behaviour."

The Home Secretary also today published a toolkit document aimed at enforcement and licensing authorities that sets out the full range of powers now available to them.

Director of Alcohol Concern Srabani Sen said, "We warmly welcome the Home Secretary's announcement today of the review of the drinks industry's standards of practice in the way they produce, promote and sell alcohol. Alcohol Concern applauds those drinks producers and retailers that have actively tried to cut alcohol related harm, but too many companies put the interests of profit above the need to do everything possible to minimise the potentially damaging effects of drinking too much.

"We hope that the Home Office review will pave the way for a genuinely constructive dialogue between Government, the industry and alcohol experts about the contribution of the drinks industry to reducing alcohol harm."

Read related items on:
Retail, pubs, clubs and restaurants
Government, Central
Smith, Jacqui

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