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Crackdown on teen drinkers

By Jo Deeks on Thursday, 28th June 2001.

POLICE are launching a major crackdown on under-age drinking in Haverhill, as well as other towns and villages across West Suffolk.

The Squash It campaign will be launched on Monday, with a tough three-tier approach to tackling the problem.

The campaign aims to encourage youngsters to avoid alcohol in favour of soft drinks such as squash.

The first time an under-age person is found with alcohol, police will use their powers to seize the drink and pour it away.

A letter and an information leaflet will be sent to their parents telling them about the incident.

Anyone who is under the influence of alcohol, or found in possession of it, a second time will have a home visit with their parents arranged by the police.

If a third occasion arises, the youngster's details will be passed on to the youth offending team and a letter sent to parents informing them of the action.

David Dyble, crime prevention officer, said the campaign was mainly aimed at the younger age group, ranging from 12 to 15 years. There was a health concern about the greater effect alcohol had on younger teenagers, as well as how vulnerable it made them, particularly girls.

"We have no objection to young people congregating in public places, as long as they behave themselves and do not commit crime.

"Our message is if they do abuse alcohol, they will be dealt with under the campaign.

"The launch of this new scheme, timed to coincide with the beginning of the summer holidays, is intended to not only address the problem of under-age drinking, but will hopefully reduce the number of crimes directly related to alcohol abuse, such as vandalism and anti-social behaviour," Mr Dyble said.

Police officers will be visiting local schools and youth groups with striking posters warning about the new action youngsters will face if found drinking.

Posters will also be displayed at hot spot areas where youths are known to congregate.

Areas to be targeted in Haverhill will include Strasbourg Square, Jubilee Walk and the East Town Park.

Police will also be visiting licensed premises asking them to reinforce the message to staff not to sell alcohol to people under 18.

Haverhill Weekly News

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