Force-wide campaign to call time on under-age drinkers
Combating under-age drinking is the focus of a new unique campaign on the streets of County Durham and Darlington.
Operation ARIES – a multi-agency crackdown on under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour – is being rolled out across the force area from tomorrow, Tuesday, July 8.
Durham Constabulary and its partners will be working with Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAP), a community interest organisation, and is believed to be the first police force to implement the CAP approach to tackling under-age drinking across all its localities simultaneously.
During the campaign a host of measures will be used to tackle the issues. Pilot schemes run in Stanley and Peterlee have seen significant seizures of alcohol from under-age drinkers, resulting in an increase in referrals to 4Real, the young persons’ drug and alcohol service, and a decrease in alcohol-related anti-social behaviour. It is hoped their successes will be mirrored across the force area.
Sergeant Mick Urwin, of the force’s alcohol harm reduction unit and Operation ARIES lead, said: “Drink-fuelled anti-social behaviour is not the only problem we have to address. Young people need to understand the potential risk to their health that drinking alcohol creates. With the help of our partner agencies and organisations we are able to offer support to young people and their families so they not only keep on the right side of the law but also avoid following a pathway to vulnerability and ill-health.
“Education has big role to play in reducing the harm caused by alcohol consumption and throughout the operation schools will be encouraged to participate in regular campaigns to keep key messages about alcohol in the minds of their students. Also, with 85 per cent of alcohol obtained by underage drinkers via parents, family, or older friends, there is a need to educate those adults about the harm it could be causing, specifically parents who have the most influence on a young person.”
Action will include officers and partner organisations monitoring repeat offenders who will be subject to a ‘three-strike’ rule. If they are stopped in possession of alcohol three times in 12 months and fail to accept support offered, they may be required to attend court.
In addition to carrying out joint patrols with partners to locate groups of under-age drinkers and seize alcohol, officers from neighbourhood policing teams will monitor repeat offenders and refer intoxicated young people to 4Real. They will also run Staysafe operations in which vulnerable young people are taken to a place of safety until they are reunited with their parents or guardians.
In partnership with trading standards, the force’s alcohol harm reduction unit will conduct intelligence-led test purchase operations at off-licences, public houses and other licensed premises. People suspected of buying alcohol on behalf of under-18s will be identified and sent warning letters. Anyone caught carrying out a proxy sale faces a £90 fixed penalty fine.
“We are confident Operation ARIES will build on the successes of the two schemes already run in Stanley and Peterlee and lead to reductions in under-age drinking and alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour across the force area. We are adopting a far more joined-up approach with the support of retailers and schools, as well as partner agencies and organisations,” said Sgt Urwin.
Giving his support to the campaign, Ron Hogg, Durham Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Tackling the harm caused by alcohol and drugs is one of the policing priorities, voted for by the public, which I have tasked the chief constable to deliver in my Police and Crime Plan.
“The knock-on effects of under-age drinking to individuals and local communities can be severe and this force-wide approach will bring positive changes in attitudes and behaviour for all concerned.”
Members of the public can find out more about the operation at Police and Communities Together (PACT) meetings, on the force website www.durham.police.uk Facebook and twitter - @aries_durham
Anyone with information or concerns about under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour can contact the force via email firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to CAP, Operation Aries partners are: Durham and Darlington trading standards , Durham and Darlington licensing authorities, the youth offending team , public health, Durham County Council, Darlington Borough Council, Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue, 4Real Durham, Switch Darlington, local schools and retailers.
Sixty-eight CAPs are in place across the UK, bringing together local stakeholders such as police, trading standards, local authority licensing and heath, as well as alcohol retailers to tackle underage drinking and its associated problems.
Posted on Monday 7th July 2014