Tackling alcohol-related harm to youngsters

New taskforce calls time on underage drinkers
New taskforce calls time on underage drinkers

A crackdown on underage drinking and anti-social behaviour in Clitheroe gets under way on Thursday.

A community partnership will see the town’s Ribble Valley Borough Council, Lancashire Trading Standards, the police, schools, shops and the health sector joining forces in a bid to tackle alcohol-related harm to the borough’s youngsters by reducing the sale of alcohol to them, advising them on the dangers of drinking and promoting alcohol-free activities.

The initiative follows concerns about youngsters congregating in the grounds of Clitheroe Castle and the Henthorn Road area of Clitheroe. The move will see officers from trading standards visiting off licences, shops and supermarkets. Recently, out of 10 businesses visited, 50% were found to have sold alcohol to an underage mystery shopper.

Rick Wilson, Lancashire County Council trading standards principal officer for alcohol and tobacco, said: “We’re working very closely with retailers and the local community to help reduce alcohol-related harm to young people in the Ribble Valley.

“We have worked with retailers across the county to establish the Check 25 scheme, and following the test-purchasing exercise in Clitheroe we’ve had a very positive response from retailers, and have worked with them to identify problems that led to the underage sales, and put solutions in place.

“The key is to ensure staff are well-trained and have the support they need to inform customers of the Check 25 policy, ask for ID, and if necessary refuse to sell alcohol and other age-restricted products. We produce a range of resources to help retailers, including training aids, online resources and information to display in their premises.”

Community Alcohol Partnerships have enjoyed considerable success across the UK tackling anti-social behaviour and reducing the sale of alcohol to underage people. Ribble Valley councillor Robert Thompson, chairman of the Ribble Valley Community Safety Partnership, which is behind the initiative, said: “There is growing concern about underage drinking in Ribble Valley and I am delighted to announce the launch of this new partnership to tackle it.

“Drinking alcohol at a young age seriously risks children’s health and development and puts them in danger of physical and social harm. They are far more likely to injure themselves or someone else, fail to reach their potential at school and engage in anti-social behaviour.

“We are committed to making a positive difference to the lives of Ribble Valley youngsters and improving community wellbeing.”

In the past, officers from Clitheroe Police have been forced to step up patrols around the town’s castle grounds after reports of anti-social behaviour in the area. During the summer holidays, the police have recognised a need to keep a closer check on the castle grounds where incidents have been reported after youths started congregating there.

Community Alcohol Partnerships aim to tackle underage drinking with a mix of education, enforcement, community engagement and the provision of diversionary activities for young people. The Ribble Valley Community Alcohol Partnership will be launched at the Grand in Clitheroe at 2-15pm on Thursday.