BOOZE BLITZ

Wishaw Press - - FRONT PAGE - Niki Ten­nant

Po­lice are us­ing the ar­rival of lighter nights to call time on adults who buy booze for un­der-age drinkers.

Cops are build­ing on the suc­cess of the award-win­ning You’re Ask­ing For It cam­paign – a prac­ti­cal and part­ner­ship- driven ap­proach aimed at re­duc­ing the risk of harm to un­der 18s by crack­ing down on proxy pur­chas­ing.

They will again be high­light­ing that any­one who buys al­co­hol for some­one un­der 18 is break­ing the law and could face a fine of up to £5000, three months in prison, or both.

Sgt Alex Pllu, of Wishaw Po­lice Of­fice, says un­der- age drink­ing plays a huge part in an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour, crime and vi­o­lence in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

And that’s why po­lice are tar­get­ing adults who fuel youth disorder.

Of­fi­cers say they know young peo­ple use so­cial media to ar­range gath­er­ings at La­nark­shire drink­ing dens.

This spring, they will again be fo­cus­ing on ar­eas such Baron’s Haugh RSPB na­ture re­serve on the Dalzell es­tate, as well as Mother­well’s Watling Street and Parkneuk Street and play­ing fields near Strath­clyde Park.

At Baron’s Haugh, youths aged be­tween 15 and 19 have used bird watch­ers’ hides for their drink­ing binges.

Sgt Pllu says peo­ple who use the re­serve feel initi­mated walk­ing past rowdy groups of youths.

“For as long as I have been in the po­lice, kids will go to a park and drink,” he said.

“We will get calls when they are com­ing home full of drink. They are very loud and some­times van­dalise peo­ple’s prop­erty. It’s not just the un­der- age drink­ing that causes con­cern, it’s the as­so­ci­ated be­hav­iour that goes along with it.

“The peo­ple who live there are wait­ing for 11 or 12 o’clock when youths are walk­ing past and caus­ing grief and leav­ing res­i­dents won­der­ing if their win­dows will be smashed or their cars will be dam­aged.”

When po­lice re­ceive com­plaints about youths gath­er­ing to drink, of­fi­cers say their tac­tics in­clude go­ing to the scene and tak­ing as many names as pos­si­ble.

They then share that in­for­ma­tion with North La­nark­shire Coun­cil’s hous­ing depart­ment and to­gether will visit coun­cil house res­i­dents to high­light the im­pact an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour can have on in­di­vid­u­als’ ten­an­cies.

Po­lice will also be con­tin­u­ing their work with get­ting li­censees on board, as­sur­ing them they have the force’s sup­port, and con­tin­u­ing to ham­mer home the You’re Ask­ing For It cam­paign mes­sages.

They are urg­ing li­censees to be vig­i­lant if they see reg­u­lar cus­tomers buy­ing ad­di­tional al­co­holic drinks typ­i­cally favoured by young peo­ple.

Of­fi­cers have also re­ceived re­ports from con­cerned re­tail­ers when an adult pur­chases so-called al­copops and pays with a hand­ful of loose change.

Li­censees who sus­pect adults are sup­ply­ing drink to un­der 18s have also alerted po­lice to re­port groups of youths loi­ter­ing out­side their shops.

Driven by the Scot­tish Al­co­hol In­dus­try Part­ner­ship (SAIP), Po­lice Scot­land and North La­nark­shire Com­mu­nity Safety Part­ner­ship, the You’re Ask­ing For It cam­paign saw a surge of sup­port from re­tail­ers, as well as par­ents and con­cerned res­i­dents in their com­mu­ni­ties af­ter its launch.

Po­lice Scot­land an­a­lysts re­port that youth disorder in­ci­dents re­duced by 10 per cent fol­low­ing the launch of the cam­paign.

The tac­tic also con­trib­uted to a 51 per cent re­duc­tion of re­ports of children drink­ing on the street.

In ad­di­tion to 38 adults be­ing re­ported for buy­ing al­co­hol for children, the cam­paign also led to two North La­nark­shire stores be­ing re­ported for re­peat­edly sell­ing al­co­hol to un­der 18s.

Sgt Pllu says these re­sults sug­gest that children have found it more dif­fi­cult to source al­co­hol.

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