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News - 4 September 2009

New campaign to tackle under-age drinking

UK authorities have tried banning them and punishing them. Now we plan to educate them and maybe frighten them into submission. Brighton & Hove City Council, like many others in the country, is trying out new ideas to stem alcohol abuse amongst under-age drinkers.

A new campaign to highlight the dangers of under-age drinking will be launched by Brighton & Hove City Council next month.

The’ Keeping It Safe’ campaign aims to inform and educate young people about the health risks of drinking alcohol and highlight the dangers of excessive drinking.

The campaign will also target adults who buy alcohol for under 18 year olds and send out a clear warning to retailers who are selling to young people without checking their ID.

Each week five children from Brighton & Hove attend Accident and Emergency departments with alcohol related problems, while many others are involved in violent and aggressive behaviour.

Figures released from Operation Park, Sussex Police’s regular weekend operation to tackle under-age drinking in public places show that since June last year out of 575 young people stopped, 530 were under the influence of alcohol and 320 had alcohol seized.

In addition, academic research and national statistics show that;

  • Around 10,000 young people are admitted to hospital every year because of drinking
  • Young people aged between 16 and 25, and particularly young men, are more at risk of being killed in alcohol related road traffic accidents
  • In the UK , 15 to 25 year olds have the highest rates of accidental injury due to alcohol consumption
  • Hazardous and harmful drinking patterns are resulting in increasing hospital admissions of young people
  • Alcohol use is strongly linked to involvement in youth violence
  • The effects of alcohol can reduce a young person’s ability to assess risks, making them more likely to engage in unprotected sex and putting them at risk of sexually transmitted infections and/or unplanned pregnancy
  • Girls who drink alcohol are more than twice as likely to have an unwanted pregnancy as their non-drinking friends

As well as informing young people, their parents and carers about the dangers of drinking, the campaign also sends out a strong message to those who buy alcohol for young people and those who sell it to them.

Members of the public face an £80 on the spot fine, or court action if caught buying alcohol for under age youths.

Councillor Dee Simson, Cabinet member for Community Affairs and Inclusion explained, “There is currently a national culture of under age drinking and this council is committed to doing everything we can to reverse this trend here in Brighton & Hove.

“We need to ensure that young people have all the facts about the harmful effects of alcohol and the risks they take when drinking excessively.

“One of the key factors in cutting down on under-age drinking is stopping those who are supplying young people with alcohol.

“We need to change the behaviour of those people who are currently buying alcohol for under 18’s and make them aware that they are putting these young people in danger.

“They also need to be aware that they will be prosecuted if caught.”

The council will be working closely with youth services and other partners to produce information for young people on staying safe which will be distributed across the city, but particularly in areas where under age drinking is known to be a problem.


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