A new campaign was launched on Friday evening at the Galashiels Interchange, raising awareness of the issue of adults buying alcohol for children and young people.
Inspired by concerns raised by young people in Galashiels, the Don’t Buy It, Don’t Supply It initiative will aim to highlight new legislation which makes it an offence to simply supply alcohol for anyone under 18.
Under the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015, if an adult is caught supplying or buying alcohol for an under-18, they could face a fine of up to £5,000 or up to three months in prison.
If under 18 and caught by the police with alcohol, it will be confiscated, which may lead to serious consequences for the person who supplied or purchased it.
Retailers and licensees also face serious implications if caught selling to under-18s.
Councillor Watson McAteer, chair of Scottish Borders Council’s Police, Fire and Rescue and Safer Communities Board, said: “I am pleased to support the Don’t Buy It, Don’t Supply It campaign which has come about because of concerns raised directly by young people.
“Direct purchase of alcohol by an under 18 is rare, with the majority of alcohol being sourced from home, a friend or a relative.
“That is why this campaign is focussing on raising awareness amongst adults of their legal responsibilities and potential consequences if they are found to be buying alcohol for children and young people, which can be a significant fine or even lead to time in jail.”
Youngsters from TD1 Youth Hub and Galashiels Academy came up with the slogan for the campaign, and provided the initial poster design which will feature across the Borders.
It is being taken forward by the Scottish Borders Safer Communities Team, incorporating Scottish Borders Council, Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, with support from the Borders Alcohol and Drugs Partnership.
The campaign will focus on key times when underage drinking is an issue – Christmas/New Year, rugby sevens season and Borders summer festivals – and will ask parents to think twice when their under 18 child asks them to buy alcohol.
The campaign will see police and partners carrying out a range of activities during the festive period.
All 450 licensed premises in the Borders have also been provided with a campaign poster and information to encourage support for the campaign.
Anyone wishing to support the campaign can download materials from www.scotborders.gov.uk/dontbuydontsupply
Tim Patterson, joint director of public health and chair of the Borders Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, said: “It is really important that adults consider their responsibilities.
“We know that teenage drinking can have an immediate and long-term impact on health and the earlier teenagers start drinking regularly, the greater the risk of problem drinking in adulthood.”
Police Scotland Community Inspector Tony Hodges added: “We are committed to keeping young members of our community safe from harm and underage drinking increases the risk to their safety.
“In addition, a significant proportion of the youth-related anti-social behaviour we respond to comes as a result of those involved being under the influence.
“I would urge parents and guardians of all young people to discuss the dangers associated with underage drinking with their children.
“We will not tolerate such offences and fully support this campaign.”
Councillor John Greenwell, chair of the Scottish Borders Licensing Board, added: “The board fully supports the Don’t Buy It, Don’t Supply It campaign. I am particularly pleased that TD1 Youth Hub has been so heavily involved.”
Douglas Ormston of TD1 Youth Hub said: “The initiative came about after we did some research and discovered that underage drinking was an issue.
“After speaking to the Borders Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, we agreed to start a campaign to raise awareness, which has been taken forward by the Scottish Borders Safer Communities team.
“Alcohol can put young people into dangerous situations and lead to anti-social behaviour which is why we need to ensure adults do not buy or supply them with drink.”