Increase in police patrols to combat under-age drinking

DISORDER patrols are to be increased in Bedlington and Bedlington Station to combat under-age drinking.

Officers from Bedlington’s neighbourhood policing team will be targeting key areas where problems have been identified.

Areas which are showing an increase of youngsters being found with alcohol include Gallagher Park, Furness Bank, Humford Woods and the countryside paths at the bottom of Hazelmere estate.

The patrols follow on from last year’s successful Street Safe Operation, where officers removed vulnerable or intoxicated youngsters from the streets.

Acting Sergeant Melissa Hepburn, from the neighbourhood team, said: “Officers are being deployed each Friday to deal with this issue.

“We’re also following up on the increasing information we’ve received from concerned residents and business owners in the more isolated locations about under-age drinking so we can take robust action.

“Neighbourhood officers are actively targeting these areas to prevent vulnerable youngsters putting themselves at risk, causing anti-social behaviour or committing crime.”

Under powers introduced in 2009, it is an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to persistently possess alcohol in a public place.

Community support officer Dave Johnston added: “Police and CSOs work with schools and other agencies to reduce the number of youngsters drinking in public.

“If youngsters are stopped three times in a 12-month period they are committing an offence which could lead to a criminal conviction at court.”

A 17-year-old from Bedlington Station has already been prosecuted after being stopped at Furness Bank.

Neighbourhood Beat Manager for Bedlington Station, Pc Stephen McIntosh, said: “Police routinely deal with the consequences of under-age binge drinkers.

“Under-age children often place themselves in situations they would not consider if sober and I’d urge parents to talk to their children about the consequences of getting drunk and the profound implications this can have on their health, as well as their careers if they are convicted of an offence.”

Where appropriate, letters, phone calls and immediate home visits will be made to parents to prevent youngsters causing problems or putting themselves in danger.

Referrals to social services will also be completed if youngsters who roam the streets are considered at risk.

Anyone with any information about underage alcohol sales or drinking locations should contact their neighbourhood policing team on 101, ext 69191, or e-mail bedlington.npt@northumbria.pnn.police.uk