Underage drinking crackdown in Essex

PUBS and off-licenses in Essex are to be targeted in a crackdown on underage drinking and alcohol-fuelled crime in the build-up to the World Cup. With fans looking forward to England's campaign starting in Germany next month, town centre pubs are gearing themselves for packed afternoons and evenings.

PUBS and off-licenses in Essex are to be targeted in a crackdown on underage drinking and alcohol-fuelled crime in the build-up to the World Cup.

With fans looking forward to England's campaign starting in Germany next month, town centre pubs are gearing themselves for packed afternoons and evenings.

But a recent trading standards campaign found less than one in five under-age youngsters who “test-purchased” alcohol were unsuccessful.

With previous major tournaments leading to trouble after England's exit it is also hoped the campaign, which will run into June, will “set the tone of acceptable behaviour” before the start of the World Cup.


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There will also be a fresh round of test-purchasing campaigns to assess the number of underage sales taking place.

Recent underage drinking campaigns by Essex Police and Essex Trading Standards have seen the number of under-18s stopped from buying alcohol drop from 50% to just 17%.

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People selling alcohol to under-18s are liable to an £80 on-the-spot fixed penalty notice or prosecution, and similar operations will be carried out during the new campaign.

Chris Rawlinson, Colchester town manager, welcomed the campaign and said she hoped it would lead to an enjoyable atmosphere in the town during the tournament period.

“Colchester does not, I believe, have a particular problem but we need to keep it that way.

“The answer to these kind of difficulties is two-fold. It is about people's responsibility for their own behaviour but also about licensees being more responsible as well.”

Nigel Dermott, Essex Police's licensing project manager and alcohol co-ordinator, said the force fully supported the campaign, set up by the Home Office, especially in relation to underage drinking.

“After a number of these campaigns we would welcome the support of parents and the community to see this as a problem within the whole of our society not just within the licensing trade,” he said.

During previous campaigns Essex Police has carried out a number of activities to crack down on the illegal and irresponsible consumption of alcohol by underage youngsters.

It also tackled retailers who encourage underage drinking by selling alcohol to under-18s.

Mr Dermott warned: “There is a constant need for licensees and retailers to be vigilant and ensure they do not sell alcohol to under-18s, as this will help us to tackle alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour.

“There is also a need for young people to be prepared to prove their age. On-the-spot fines are just as liable for young people attempting to buy alcohol.”

He added: “We want everyone to feel happy and relaxed when out during the evening, especially during the warmer summer weather, which is why we will continue to work in partnership with the staff in pubs, clubs and supermarkets across the county to combat the issue of binge drinking head-on. We are determined to keep up the pressure to reduce violent crime, drunkenness and anti-social behaviour.”

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