Teen drinking crackdown in genteel town
SHOPS in a seaside town known for its peace and gentility are cracking down on under-age youths buying alcohol after concerns about rowdy behaviour.One store in Frinton is even looking at placing security guards on its door to protect employees, it has emerged.
By Roddy Ashworth
SHOPS in a seaside town known for its peace and gentility are cracking down on under-age youths buying alcohol after concerns about rowdy behaviour.
One store in Frinton is even looking at placing security guards on its door to protect employees, it has emerged.
The steps are being taken in the genteel town – where there is only one pub – amid reports gangs of rowdy youths are regularly intimidating elderly residents.
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Yesterday Sue Collins, relief manager of the Spar in Connaught Avenue, said that up to 50 youths had gathered outside the store on Friday while the town had its annual late night shopping event.
"They were drinking and smoking. The police came to move them on because they were blocking the door. But they came back again.
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"It was a lot on that night. But this is a constant thing. Groups of around 20 often stand there and congregate outside. Sometimes you get verbal abuse if you don't sell them alcohol or cigarettes.
"It is intimidating for other customers. The older residents of Frinton won't come out because of this.
"They move up and down the street from here to the Co-op to the railway station and then back again.
"They do give people verbal abuse and if you try and talk to them about it they can be threatening."
Ms Collins said her area manager was now arranging to hire evening security guards to protect employees from abuse when they refuse to serve alcohol to the youngsters.
She added that on Friday staff had refused to sell alcohol to 16 young people.
The Spar already has a policy of not serving alcohol to anybody who appears to be under 21, instead of the legal requirement of 18, unless they have approved identification.
And, as of yesterday , young people wanting to purchase alcohol from the Co-op Fiveways and food store in Connaught Avenue also have to appear to be over the age of 21 if they have no ID.
Before the move, people only had to appear to be over 18 if they did not have acceptable proof of age.
A Co-op spokesman said that by raising the age that customers must appear to be they would hopefully deter under-18-year-olds from even attempting to purchase drink from the shop.
Yesterday Frinton town councillor Terry Allen said he was aware of gangs of youths causing intimidation but that he thought the problem was now being solved.
"This has been high on the town council's agenda. We have noticed the problem of the kids hanging out together and getting loud over the past few years.
"They are not all from the local area. Some were coming into the town on the train and not paying. We have spoken to the rail companies about this and they have sorted their policing out," he said.
"The have been fuelling themselves with booze. The response from the Spar and the Co-op will hopefully stop them trying to get liquor.
"The demographic change in Frinton means we have got more teenagers. When they meet together it can be intimidating.
"When I first came to Frinton you could walk down Connaught Avenue in the evening and you wouldn't see a soul. Now there are restaurants and a pub and the place is more vibrant," he added.