Underage drinking success

A CAMPAIGN targeting underage drinking has seen a fall in the number of youngsters caught with alcohol on the streets.

The Safer Hartlepool Partnership launched a campaign at the start of the summer to clamp down on anyone in possession or drinking alcohol under the legal age in public places.

The joint initiative which involves Hartlepool Borough Council, Cleveland Police and other key agencies is aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour on streets and in local communities.

Under the Policing and Crime Act 2009, anyone under the age of 18 who is found in possession of alcohol three times in a 12-month period runs the risk of a £500 fine.

Figures for the month of June showed that 32 young people were caught in possession of alcohol in a public place.

But latest statistics show that the figure reduced to 21 in July.

Sally Forth, the council’s community safety manager, said: “The figures demonstrate that there are still young people out there who are breaking the law, but it’s encouraging to see a drop in the second month of the campaign.

“This demonstrates that the message is getting through to children and their parents that underage drinking in public places will not be tolerated.

“It is a well known fact that young people can cause themselves considerable harm by drinking alcohol and we hope they heed the warning.”

On the first occasion that a youngster is found in possession or drinking alcohol, a letter is sent to their parents reminding them of the law. On the second occasion, youngsters are referred to the Youth Offending Service and Anti-Social Behaviour Unit, who will offer education and support with their parents present. On the third occasion, youngsters face prosecution.

Chief Inspector Lynn Beeston, of Cleveland Police, said: “Underage drinking can blight communities and the lives of local residents and will not be tolerated. I’d also like to stress that the offence covers anyone in possession of alcohol; the police do not need to prove that anyone underage has been drinking or was intending to drink.

“A great deal of work has taken place to curb alcohol related anti-social behaviour, but my message to culprits who continue to flout the law is that we will ensure that justice is done.”

Also, as part of the powers, police officers are able to move anyone on over the age of 10 from an area if they feel that nuisance could occur.

Anyone wanting to report suspected underage drinking should ring (01642) 326326.