Campaign launched to tackle underage drinking – which costs every Hartlepool resident £459 per year

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A NEW CAMPAIGN has been launched to stamp out underage drinking and the problems it causes in Hartlepool.

Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher launched the Hartlepool Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) which will bring together key organisations in an attempt to combat underage drinking.

Estimates suggest that the impact of alcohol costs every resident of Hartlepool £459 per year, and alcohol accounts for a third of all arrests in the town.

The Safer Hartlepool Partnership will see several council departments working closely together with emergency services, local licensed premises and a range of voluntary organisations to address the harm caused by underage drinking.

The focus will be on an area south of the town near the Manor House and Rossmere and Fens Ward which has seen an increase in anti-social behaviour of 37% over the last year - much of which has been fuelled by alcohol.

Anyone under 18 who is found in possession of alcohol three times in a 12-month period runs the risk of a £500 fine.

The Community Alcohol Partnership will work alongside local retailers to reduce underage alcohol sales and aims to reduce the number of parents buying children booze.

Last year there were 1053 incidents of youth anti social behaviour of which 19% involved alcohol. These incidents accounted for 14% of all 7460 anti social behaviour incidents.

Sally Forth, Community safety manager, said: “We hope for local people to get on board. It’s about pulling together for a common purpose, every area is different and you need the community to help each other. It’s about raising awareness of the problems which underage drinking can cause.”

The partnership will target and prosecute adults who supply alcohol to youngsters, whilst providing help, support and information to young people through youth services and local schools.

The plan will see increased police patrols and the confiscation of alcohol from young people in areas where there have been problems with youth anti-social behaviour.

Described as a “new way of challenging under-age drinking” - the CAP has already been implemented in Peterlee and has seen a 6.3% decrease in incidents in it’s first eight months.

Hartlepool Mayor and Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, said: “Alcohol abuse has a massive impact on local communities through crime, anti-social behaviour, people’s health as well as having a detrimental affect on children and families and it’s vital that we do everything we can to address the issue.

“This is a true partnership with all of the key organisations working together to make a difference.”