POLICE held boozing youngsters they picked up off the streets in a school to teach them a lesson about underage drinking.
The 15 youths were collected from around the Clavering area of Hartlepool at night and taken to St Hild’s Secondary School to be warned about their behaviour and the dangers of alcohol.
They also had to face their parents who were called to pick them up and spoken to by police and other agencies, such as health and social services.
It was part of Operation Safeguard, a joint campaign to stop children drinking on estates and to respect their neighbourhoods.
Inspector Lee Rukin, of Hartlepool Police, said: “There had been a range of complaints regarding anti-social behaviour, damage and alcohol-related disorder over recent weeks.
“This initiative brought together the experience and expertise of the partner agencies aimed at helping and discouraging the youths from drinking alcohol on the streets and later engaging in disorderly behaviour.”
Police officers had been joined by anti-social behaviour officers and school teachers in patrols on Friday, December 2.
The operation started at 6pm and within the first few minutes the first group of alcohol-drinking youths was held.
They were said to be “shocked” as they were taken in police vehicles to the King Oswy Drive school’s sports hall.
A makeshift reception centre was set up and a host of representatives from partner agencies, including health and social services, youth offending and education, were on hand to give out advice.
Parents then arrived to collect their children and all were given official warnings about the behaviour by the police.
Insp Rukin added: “What we found surprising was that despite the bitterly cold weather, there was still a large amount of youths congregating on the estates in the north of the town.
“As soon as word got round about the operation, the youths seemed to miraculously disappear. This operation gave us a good indication as to the problem faced with youths and alcohol and sets a benchmark for future planned activities.
“We do not want to criminalise youths, but their behaviour takes that out of control sometimes.
“The majority of the youths stopped in the operation were good kids from good families.
“It is not acceptable for any youth to be walking the streets in darkness drinking alcohol as this inevitably leaves them vulnerable and a small minority also engage in criminal activity due to intoxication,” he added.