Young children hospitalised by alcohol

CHILDREN as young as 12 are being taken to hospital in a very serious condition after becoming “paralytic” on alcohol in Suffolk's market towns.

Richard Smith

CHILDREN as young as 12 are being taken to hospital in a very serious condition after becoming “paralytic” on alcohol in Suffolk's market towns.

Suffolk police has warned that towns in east Suffolk are suffering from anti social behaviour caused by youngsters illegally drinking alcohol.

Chris Lucas, a police inspector based in Leiston, told an extraordinary meeting of Aldeburgh town council: “In Framlingham we have had girls aged 12 and 13 taken to hospital absolutely paralytic and they have had to have their stomachs pumped out.

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“I think this is replicated across other towns and it is a serious problem.”

Insp Lucas said letters are sent to parents warning them about their children's behaviour and police officers use litmus tests to distinguish if an innocuous looking drink contains alcohol.

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Extra police patrols will be introduced for the three-day carnival weekend in Aldeburgh which is packed with thousands of visitors and usually there is an increase in crime.

The drinking culture among youngsters was the focal point of the special town council meeting where councillors discussed how they could crack down on the problem.

Latest figures show that children aged 11 to 15 are now drinking 11.5 units of alcohol a week. This compares with five units in 1990.

Aldeburgh town council decided not to follow the example of other towns in Suffolk Coastal who now have designated alcohol zones where it is an offence not to stop drinking in public when asked by a police officer.

Instead, the town council voted for police to use dispersal orders. These are powers which allow officers to move people on, seize alcohol and forbid them from returning to a location for 48 hours.

Councillors had mixed views on the extent of drunken behaviour in Aldeburgh. John Digby said: “I can not see that we have a major problem, it is just four to six weeks of hassle. August is the problem and has been for 40 years.”

But Marianne Fellowes said: “When people leave the Jubilee Hall on Friday and Saturday nights they have to walk through crowds of young people.

“A lot of residents said there was a problem, especially on Crag Path, and there was an assault on the lifeboat crew.

“A lot of people live in fear during July and August weekends and there are certain areas of town where young people are gathering and drinking a lot of alcohol.”

Hugo Herbert-Jones said the problems should not be exaggerated and he did not want the town to be plastered with notices about alcohol zones.

“This would give the impression that it is a hotbed of crime and disorder which is not really in the Aldeburgh tradition at all,” said the former mayor.

Letting agencies in Aldeburgh are to be asked to give their tenants “house rules” which emphasise the need to drink sensibly.

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