Half-term crackdown pays off

Police demand more parental control after under-age drinkers unmasked

More than 25,000 litres of alcohol were seized from under-18s during February half-term, figures from the Home Office have shown.

Police from 39 forces in England and Wales took to the streets from Feb 8-24 as part of a £760,000 campaign to cut levels of under-age drinking.

Children found with alcohol had to hand it over to officers, who also checked their age and where they had got it .

Of those who were found with alcohol, 15% said they had bought it from a shop themselves, 5% said they had asked a friend to buy it and 4% persuaded a stranger to buy it. Another 5% took alcohol from home, with 1% admitting they were given it by their parents.

Thirty per cent of offenders refused to divulge where their alcohol had come from.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said he wanted to send a "strong signal once again to those persistent few irresponsible retailers who deliberately sell to under-18s.

"They will be caught and they will be punished," he said.

However, he also said that parents needed to be more responsible for their children.

He said: "Where poor parenting is identified as an issue I want to see greater use of parenting contracts to tackle persistent under-age drinking. I also want to see greater sharing of information between police and local agencies about repeat offenders to address problems as early as possible."

The Association of Convenience Stores praised the police for targeting the children who were drinking.

Chief executive James Lowman said: "At last, police time has been dedicated to tackling under-age drinkers themselves. We believe that measures such as these show under-age drinkers there are consequences to their actions. But we need more enforcement against those buying alcohol when under-age or proxy purchasing on their behalf."