Youth drink battle being lost

Scotland’s senior police officer has admitted that measures brought in to curb underage drinking have not worked.

But Chief Constable Steve House has pledged that the booze battle will continue.

In October 2011, pubs, hotels and off licences were told to ask for identification from anyone wanting to buy alcohol who looked under 25,

But in a report going to the Borders Licensing Board tomorrow, he admits the move has simply led to more adults buying booze for underagers.

He states: “The introduction of Challenge 25 has not seen any reduction in the consumption of alcohol by children and young persons, however, there is a move towards ‘agent purchase’ of alcohol and much less instances of children or young persons purchasing alcohol themselves.”

The chief highlights a rise in drink-fueled antisocial behaviour by young people during June and July in Jedburgh and Kelso, and reveals: “It became apparent that parents were buying alcohol for their children for weekend parties.”

Over 12 months, police in the Borders reported five instances of drink being sold to a child and one drink being bought for a child, to the procurator fiscal.

Seven test purchases were carried out, with three failures that resulted in police asking the board to review the licenses of two premises and the personal licence of a worker. And the Police Scotland boss issues a general warning to the licensed trade.

His report states: “There is an increasing body of evidence to demonstrate the harm that is caused by alcohol across our communities and the cost of this is a huge burden on the public purse. Where alcohol is sold irresponsibly or when alcohol is misused or abused, we will seek all necessary steps to prevent any recurrence, reporting licence holders to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and also to the relevant licensing board.”

Mr House points out that the Borders is the only area in Scotland without byelaws restricting drinking in public places and welcomes the council’s decision to carry out a public consultation on the issue.