UNDER-AGE drinking and antisocial behaviour is to be put under the spotlight with the launch of a new scheme in Longridge.
Town mayor Coun Paul Byrne joined PC Paul Worswick to launch the crackdown outside the Co-op last Thursday. Longridge PACT chairman Irene Nuttall and PCSO Ben Higham, plus representatives from the borough council, trading standards and the Co-op also assisted the launch - “an initiative which I fully support and hope it goes well for the town,” said Coun Byrne.
It is backed by the Community Alcohol Network (CAN), a partnership between Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Constabulary aimed at clamping down on those selling or giving alcohol to children.
The project will see a range of activities agaIinst alcohol misuse, including targeted police patrols in hotspot areas and Trading Standards officers speaking to local retailers to offer advice on the sale of alcohol.
Officers will also be visiting schools to raise awareness of the law concerning young people and alcohol and the risks involved.
Posters will be displayed in shops and pubs and leaflets will be posted through people’s doors in a bid to raise awareness of the consequences associated with buying alcohol for children.
Special Constables, neighbourhood policing teams and Trading Standards officers will be on patrol across the area, seizing alcohol from underage drinkers whilst ensuring it is also being sold responsibly.
During specific operations, off licence staff will be given a dedicated mobile number, which will link directly through to the police allowing them to quickly respond to any issues relating to underage drinking.
Sgt Jason Middleton said: “Underage drinking and associated anti social behaviour can have a negative impact on our communities.
“This campaign is all about working with residents, local retailers and other organisations to reduce alcohol related anti-social behaviour and improve the quality of life for people living in Longridge.”
County Councillor Albert Atkinson, LCC Cabinet Member with responsibility for Trading Standards added: “Many people who buy alcohol for a child think they are not doing any harm because they tried alcohol when they were at that age.
“But underage drinking is a more serious problem today, and the north west suffers some of the highest levels of alcohol-related harm in England.
“A recent Trading Standards North West survey found that 29 per cent of young people aged between 14 and 17 claimed to be drinking alcohol at least once a week. Early alcohol initiation and drinking larger quantities in childhood are associated with an increased risk of developing chronic health and other problems in later life.
“Under-age drinking can also result in anti-social behaviour and crime that have a wider impact on local communities.
“Without everyone’s help, alcohol misuse by young people will continue.”
The project will run for six weeks and is also being rolled out to other parts of the county.
Anyone with information or concerns about underage drinking or anti social behaviour can contact police on 0845 1 25 35 45 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
For more information about the CAN project, contact Trading Standards on 01772 530586.