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Tackling under-age drinking – “Bottle Watch”

July 8, 2010

A lot of reports of antisocial behaviour stem from young people drinking alcohol. Groups of youths hanging around in parks and near shops cause concern for residents who see the disorderly behaviour and hear the drunken shouting.

Young people who are drunk not only get involved in committing crime, but are much more likely to be a victim of crime as well.  Whatever age, someone who is drunk is more susceptible to being assaulted, robbed or becoming a victim of a sexual assault.

We have worked with retailers and with Walsall Council to promote and support the Challenge 25 policy. Retailers are encouraged to ask for identification from anyone who looks under the age of 25, to prove that they are over 18. Only certain forms of ID are accepted, such as valid passports, driving licences and PASS cards.

Regular test purchase operations are carried out to ensure that retailers are taking their responsibilities seriously. The failure rate in the borough is very low, which indicates that most shops are challenging people who appear under age.

Retailers are playing their part, but their diligence is being undermined by irresponsible adults buying alcohol for people under 18. It is an offence for an adult to buy alcohol for a person under 18, but we know that some young people are paying adults to purchase alcohol on their behalf. It is very difficult for a retailer to prevent this, so we are trying a different approach

In Walsall and Aldridge, officers from the neighbourhood teams are visiting off-licences and supermarkets in their areas to launch “Bottle Watch”.

Retailers taking part in the scheme mark their drinks bottles with an indelible, permanent identification marker. Each marker uniquely identifies the shop where the drink came from. When a young person is found in possession of an alcoholic drink, it can be traced back to the shop it was purchased from and this can assist in identifying the person who made the purchase.

The scheme has been successful in other parts of the country – some examples can be seen by clicking the following links.

http://www.southyorks.police.uk/news/newssyp/bottlewatchlaunchedgoldthorpe

http://www.northwarks.gov.uk/site/scripts/news_article.php?newsID=864

http://www.north-wales.police.uk/nwpv2/en/yglas/newsDetail.asp?sid=PR293774

In case anyone is ever tempted to purchase alcohol on behalf of a person under 18 – think about this. The maximum fine for this offence is £5000.  It really isn’t worth it.

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