Police patrols will crack down on young drinkers

POLICE are targeting areas of town blighted by under-age drinking and alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour in a new crackdown.

Patrols are going to be patrolling central St Leonards, the town centre and the Old Town, as part of a new scheme that was launched on Friday, designed to combat under-age drinking and the selling of alcohol to those under 18.

Hastings MP, Amber Rudd and a number of councillors are giving their backing to the clampdown.

The initiative, which will last six months, involves training all retailers about the sale of alcohol, educating young people through schools and youth clubs on the health effects of alcohol, and targeting adults with information about the law relating to proxy purchasing where people can be prosecuted for buying alcohol on behalf of someone under 18.

Police will also be making checks on retailers to make sure no alcohol is being sold to under-age drinkers, as well as patrolling areas for under-age drinking, confiscating alcohol and informing parents.

On the spot fines may be issued to adults found buying alcohol on behalf of under 18s.

The scheme will then be evaluated against the same six-month period last year with perception audits carried out before and after through Facebook, local outlets and surveys.

It has been co-ordinated by the Hastings Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP), which brings together agencies including Safer Hastings Partnership, East Sussex County Council services, Hastings Borough Council, Sussex Police, local retailers, charities and local media.

Councillor Kim Forward, lead member for community safety at Hastings Borough Council, said: “We need to work together to solve the problem of alcohol abuse by both the under and the over 18s in Hastings and the Community Alcohol Partnership scheme where a variety of agencies all play their part to manage the problem has to be the right way forward.

“We want to see adults and young people drinking responsibly and minors only able to access alcohol under responsible and informed supervision.”

Ms Rudd said: “I am delighted to support this initiative. It will not only help young people to tackle their harmful use of alcohol, but also help the community which currently suffers the consequences of this alcohol abuse.

“I look forward to the results of the evaluation in the autumn and wish it every success.”