New police crackdown in Capital to target underage drinkers

UNDERAGE drinkers are to be targeted by police in a new crackdown across north-west Edinburgh.

A new police crackdown is being carried out in the north-west of the city.

Officers joined with the city council, retailers and charities to launch the initiative yesterday at Drumbrae Library Hub.

The Corstorphine and Drylaw Community Alcohol Partnership will aim to tackle drink-fuelled racist abuse, graffiti and vandalism by youths.

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“We’re here to address antisocial behaviour caused by underage drinkers,” said Inspector Stevie Sutherland.

“We will do our utmost to initially deter this and, if necessary, carry out enforcement against those carrying illegally.”

Insp Sutherland said officers would be going into all comprehensive schools in the area to warn teens of the dangers of underage drinking.

But if problems persist, officers would launch sting operations against shops selling booze to children and “proxy purchasers” – adults buying for underage drinkers.

“Issues can be anything from the elderly and vulnerable in the community afraid to go out because kids are hanging around outside, to racial slurs, vandalism and graffiti,” said Insp Sutherland.

Officers have been called up to 15 times a night to drunk teenagers abusing shoppers at Tesco Meadow Place Road, Corstorphine after buying booze elsewhere, revealed Insp Sutherland.

And last month, the Evening News reported how homeowners in nearby North Gyle Loan, East Craigs, blamed teenage drinkers for rampaging across cars, smashing windscreens.

“Alcohol is stored in hedges on a Thursday and then picked-up on a Friday, said Insp Sutherland. “It’s not rocket science – it’s been going on for years.”

Information gathered by police from surveys conducted in schools suggests teens are drinking every week.

Shop owners caught selling booze to underage drinkers face an unlimited fine, three months in prison and the lost of their licence.

Funded by retailers, Community Alcohol Partnerships are a UK-wide initiative to tackle underage drinking and associated anti-social behaviour.

The north west CAP is the city’s second, after a similar scheme was rolled out in the east of the Capital in 2013.

“A lot of issues relating to alcohol are specific to local areas and the CAP solution is not one size fits all – it provides a menu of approaches for local areas to choose from,” said CAP chair Derek Lewis.

“Starting with young people is the right place to start because if you can influence the behaviour of teenagers then it will stay with them for life.”