A SENIOR councillor is calling on residents to shop traders who sell booze to under-age drinkers.
Coun Arthur Meeks, who chairs South Tyneside Council’s licensing and regulatory committee, wants armchair sleuths to report any shops they suspect of supplying alcohol to children.
The call follows reports of increasing trouble caused by youths in Hebburn, and complaints about groups of teenagers drinking and causing damage to property.
But Coun Meeks said there are problems with young drinkers across the borough, and wants to stamp it out.
He said: “We are all aware of the problems associated with under-age drinking and the negative impact that this can have on our neighbourhoods, not to mention on the health and wellbeing of our young people.
“There is a clear link between alcohol consumption and youth disorder, and one of the best ways we can break that link is to stop alcohol from getting into the hands of young people in the first place.
“We know that the majority of retailers in the borough are responsible, but there are some that do not abide by the law, and we need help to identify them so that we can take action to deal with the problem.
“We provide guidance, advice, training and display materials to help retailers comply with the law but take firm action when the law is broken, including prosecutions, reviews of licences and, where persistent illegal sales occur, we seek to remove licences.”
Coun Meeks also had a warning for adults who buy alcohol on behalf of children.
He said: “There are occasions when children approach adults in the vicinity of off-licences, and ask them to buy the alcohol on their behalf. Unfortunately, some adults agree to this.
“We would remind them that it is a criminal offence to buy alcohol on behalf of a child.
“It could result in prosecution and a heavy fine, so bear this in mind if you are ever approached – and say no.”
Police in Hebburn recently told of problems in the Waterside Park and Marina View areas caused by gangs of boozy teens.
In response, Operation Glint has been launched to try to tackle the problem, and extra officers were in the area over the weekend.
Sergeant Sam Rennison, who covers the area, said: “We have visited off-licences and reminded shop staff of their responsibilities to ask for proof of age before selling alcohol to younger-looking customers.
“We want to do all we can to prevent under-18s getting access to drink.
“Youngsters who drink alcohol are more likely to become involved in disorder, which is why we take action to remove drink, target those who supply alcohol to children and work with parents to make them aware of the dangers.”
Any under-18s found with alcohol will have it seized and poured away.
The council’s Safetrader scheme –which sees businesses’ practices and training audited and take part in a nationally-accredited examination – now has a ‘Preventing Underage Sales’ category.
Those that satisfy the criteria are presented with a certificate to display.
To report underage sales, people can call a confidential hotline on 0800 093 5878 or text the word UNDERAGE and details to 07786200802.
It can also be reported online at: www.reportitonline.co.uk.
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