Lay off the youngsters, says police inspector

A POLICE inspector believes boozing Borders teenagers are not the main problem for the region’s emergency services, writes Kenny Paterson.

Inspector John Scott believes the majority of youngsters in the region do not binge drink, and that society is too quick to vilify children.

He pointed to the statistics from the Scottish Borders Alcohol Profile, the most thorough report of its kind produced in Scotland, which showed that only eight per cent of alcohol-related admissions to the accident and emergency department at Borders General Hospital were under-18s.

Insp Scott told TheSouthern: “The public as a whole is very quick to judge young people.

“There have been one or two high-profile front-page splashes such as the kids drinking at the forest football pitch pavilion near Selkirk, but what you have to remember it is not just children who are drinking.

“Kids will take a risk and drink alcohol, but the wider issue is that the people who are presented to hospital are generally not young people.

“They are a mix between 17 to 50 years old and it is people who have done damage to their body who then significantly impact on the health service.

“It is not just young people who are consuming alcohol to excess and the majority of kids are not drinking to excess, as we seem to think.”

Other figures in the paper, which will be used as evidence for the Scottish Borders Licensing Board to make decisions over the next 12 months, showed a quarter of 13-year-olds and over half of 15-year-olds who had consumed alcohol had reported binge drinking in the previous 30 days.

The proportion of 15-year-olds in the Borders who had had a drink was 83 per cent, compared to the national average of 77 per cent.

Seventeen per cent of 15-year-olds reported that they usually drank at least once a week, down from 36 per cent in 2006.

The statistics also showed that drink was a factor in 16 children aged 15 or younger being admitted to the BGH between June and October 2012.

Report co-author Susan Walker, of the Alcohol and Drugs Partnership, added: “It is not just young people – everyone is drinking too much, in both genders.

“We know a quarter of adults in the Scottish Borders are drinking to harmful levels.

“Alcohol impacts on all age groups and that is why we talk about a whole population approach so we are not just targeting young people or harmful drinkers.”