A scheme designed to crack down on under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour in Gosport has been launched by local MP Caroline Dinenage on Saturday 17th March, at the Safer Gosport Community Day at the town hall.
Organised by the Hampshire Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP)*, the scheme seeks to tackle the nuisance created by young people – both over and under 18 – drinking alcohol in public places and becoming involved in anti-social behaviour, vandalism and drink related litter in the areas around the town centre, Holbrook recreation ground, Bridgemary parks and the industrial estates.
In particular, the initiative seeks to address the problem of young people being able to procure alcohol through proxy purchasing and from home supplies which is believed to be a key part of the problem in the area.
Seeking to bring a variety of agencies together, including local retailers, youth services, trading standards, Gosport Borough Council community safety teams, licensing, Hampshire County Council Accredited Community Safety Officers (ACSOs), the police and the media, the Gosport CAP scheme will focus on three main elements, education, enforcement and public perception.
Education – training all local retailers about the sale of alcohol, particularly using the ‘challenge 25’ scheme; educating young people through schools and youth clubs about the health effects of alcohol and targeting adults with information about the law relating to proxy purchasing, where people can be prosecuted for buying alcohol on behalf of someone under the age of 18.
Enforcement – following the training phase, tests will be made among retailers as to the robustness of their systems (with further advice offered where necessary); police and ACSOs will patrol areas for under-age drinking with alcohol confiscated and parents informed; intoxicated young people will be taken home; young people with second offences will be invited to an alcohol workshop with their parent or guardian, and a third offence may face prosecution
Public perception - the scheme will run for six months and then be evaluated against the same period last year with perception audits carried out before and after through Facebook, local outlets and surveys. The project is encouraging the local media to act as a portal by raising awareness, communicating progress, and reporting the work to tackle alcohol misuse and anti-social behaviour.
Hampshire Constabulary’s Community Alcohol Partnership Sergeant James Noble said: “Co-operation with partner agencies within the community, particularly schools, is an essential element to ensuring this project is effective. The police force along with community safety teams and trading standards are investing a significant amount of time and resources into this combined community effort. Better awareness can help the next generation avoid the dangers of alcohol abuse and its effects on all areas of people’s lives and prospects. We are grateful for all the assistance from members of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) and look forward to educating and engaging with the young people and their families.”
Caroline Dinenage MP said: “I am delighted to support this initiative. It will not only help young people to tackle their harmful use of alcohol, but also help the community which currently suffers the consequences of this alcohol abuse. I look forward to the results of the evaluation in the autumn and wish it every success.”