An initiative to address concerns about underage drinking and associated anti-social behaviour has been launched in Penarth.
South Wales Police have been working with Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAP) to kick-start the initiative in the seaside town. An event to set up The Penarth CAP took place on Thursday, May 9, in the Paget Rooms, Penarth, and was attended by representatives from South Wales Police, CAP, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Safer Vale Partnership, Vale of Glamorgan Council, Penarth Town Council, Cardiff and Vale Health Board, The Switched On Team, St Cyres School, Stanwell School and local licensees.
CAPs are made up of partnerships between local authorities, police, schools, retailers, neighbourhood groups and health providers, working together to empower communities to tackle alcohol-related harm on young people and improve the quality of life for residents.
They aim to reduce the sale of alcohol to young people, advise on the dangers of drinking and provide alcohol-free activities through youth services and local charities. Across the country, more than 160 CAPs have had outstanding impacts on local crime, anti-social behaviour, litter, feelings of safety and reductions in underage purchasing of alcohol.
Following recent reports of groups of young people drinking in the town centre, Penarth police officers carried out surveys with local schools and residents. The data showed that only 15 per cent of the 16 and 17-year-olds surveyed had never consumed alcohol and 20 per cent said they drank alcohol at least once a week. Figures showed that 20 per cent of residents who were surveyed said they witnessed young people consuming alcohol on a weekly basis in the centre of Penarth.
Chief Inspector for the Vale of Glamorgan, Tony Williams said: “The introduction of the CAP will complement the work that’s already been undertaken by local officers and our partners, and hopefully will be a great example of police and agencies working together effectively, to reduce anti-social behaviour and make our communities better places to live, work and visit.
“Residents have expressed their concerns about seeing groups of underage drinkers in the town centre and we hope this initiative will help to educate young people on the dangers of underage drinking. There’s a lot of work to be done but it’s an exciting move forward to have a CAP in Penarth.”
He added: “At this time of year with pupils finishing their GCSE exams, we do tend to see an increase in underage drinking and I would urge local parents to help us by making sure they know where their teenagers are when they are out in the evenings.
“As well as carrying out patrols, seizing alcohol and taking action against teenagers who persistently drink alcohol, we are investigating where they are getting the alcohol from so that we can take further action if necessary. Adults who are found to be buying alcohol for under 18s can be fined and also risk further prosecution by the courts. Licensed premises can also be fined and may even lose their licence. It is positive that licensees are working with us with regards to this initiative."
CAP Chairman Derek Lewis said: “I am delighted to see the launch of a Community Alcohol Partnership in Penarth. Drinking alcohol at a young age brings serious risks to children’s health and development and puts them in danger of both physical and social harm.
“They are far more likely to injure themselves or someone else, engage in unsafe sex, fail to reach their potential at school or engage in anti-social behaviour. Community Alcohol Partnerships are a tried and tested way of driving down underage drinking and creating better, safer and friendlier neighbourhoods."