POLICE patrols are being stepped up in Bedlington as summer approaches to stop disorder issues getting out of hand.
The crackdown follows an increase in reports of under-age drinking at locations including Gallagher Park, Furness Bank, Humford Woods and the countryside paths at the bottom of the Hazelmere Estate.
Acting Sergeant Melissa Hepburn, of Bedlington’s neighbourhood policing 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 said: “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 for that offence after being stopped at Furness Bank while drinking.
Pc Stephen McIntosh, neighbourhood beat manager for Bedlington Station, added: “Police routinely deal with the consequences of under-age binge drinking.
“Being 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.”
Anyone with any information about alcohol sales to children or locations being frequented by under-age drinkers can contact the police on 101 ext 69191.