A new scheme designed to crack down on alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and under-age drinking will be launched in Caversham on Thursday 19th July.
The initiative has been co-ordinated by the Caversham Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP), which brings together a variety of agencies including Reading Borough Council, Thames Valley Police and the Youth Engagement Service (YES), as well as local schools, health groups and retailers.
As a nationwide scheme, CAPs focus on education, enforcement and public perception. In Caversham, as well as working with retailers to tackle sales of alcohol to under-18s, the CAP will particularly target the issue of adults purchasing alcohol for teenagers, known as ‘proxy purchasing’.
This has been highlighted as a concern in the area. A recent survey of students aged between 15 and 18 at Highdown School found that while 29% of young people obtain their alcohol from retailers, the remainder acquire drink from adult friends or parents (some aware, some unaware).
Caversham residents have reported an increasing number of incidents of underage drinking, particularly in parks late at night. The CAP will therefore be targeting its resources at combating alcohol-related anti-social behaviour in hotspots including Mapledurham, Emmer Green, Caversham Park Village and Lower Caversham.
As part of the scheme, Highdown School will use its text messaging system to alert parents to new information about proxy purchasing, and to pass on any intelligence to the CAP. Furthermore, the police will have powers to issue an £80 on-the-spot fine to any adults found to be purchasing alcohol for or on behalf of under-18s.
Other key elements of the CAP will include:
- The provision of education in schools and youth clubs about the effects of alcohol abuse by YES, with Highdown School incorporating the programme into its PSHE curriculum
- The provision of training to local retailers by Retail of Alcohol Standards Group (RASG) supermarket Waitrose, centering around alcohol and young people
- Engagement with local adults to discourage proxy purchasing
- The holding of a non-punitive ‘Challenge 25’ test purchasing event to test the robustness of licensees’ systems
- Regular police patrols of the CAP area to identify underage drinkers, confiscate alcohol and inform parents
The Caversham CAP’s implementation follows a successful pilot of the scheme in the Triangle area of Tilehurst, which saw the failure rate of test purchases fall from 33% to 0%.
Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Environment and Climate Change, Paul Gittings, said: “The Council are absolutely dedicated to insuring that we educate and protect our young people from the dangers of underage drinking. This project will ensure that we are doing just that and we will aim to roll out the programme where possible in Reading.
“We fully support this initiative, particularly the involvement of Highdown School, and hope to see partners from across the community working together.”
Thames Valley Police Inspector Keith Stacey who leads on licensing issues said: “We already work closely with partner agencies and retail outlets to tackle issues involving young people and alcohol and any scheme that can enhance that work is very welcome.
“With the support of the community this will assist in reducing alcohol-related disturbances on the streets of Caversham. We welcome the opportunity to co-operate with schools, parents and retailers to tackle this issue and in particular improve the night-time environment in Caversham”