Blitz on underage drinking
POLICE and trading standards officers are to launch an undercover operation targeting retailers who sell alcohol to under age youngsters – as binge drinking continues to blight town centre streets.
POLICE and trading standards officers are to launch an undercover operation targeting retailers who sell alcohol to under age youngsters - as binge drinking continues to blight town centre streets.
A series of test purchases will be carried out throughout the year at premises in Suffolk in which police have received specific intelligence.
Those caught flouting the law risk losing their license or may face prosecution.
The crackdown is part of a new written agreement between Suffolk County Council, the police and trading standards on how to deal with the illegal sale of alcohol to children in the county.
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It follows the launch of a scheme last week, in which Suffolk Constabulary said it was making alcohol-related offences and violent crime its number one priority for the next six months.
Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter said: "We want to catch licensees doing something right - not doing something wrong. So they need to know that if we catch them refusing our test purchasers we will congratulate them but if they break the law, legal action will swiftly follow."
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Towns across Suffolk have experienced problems associated with youngsters binge-drinking, including a rise in assaults and anti social behaviour.
Ch Insp Chris Mayhew, of Ipswich Police, said there had even been a slight increase in reports of sexual offences related to the problem.
"We have had some increase in some reports of sexual offences and some increases in reports of assaults. They're not vast increases by any means but there is an increase," he said.
"Our biggest problems are 16-17 year olds. Also with girls, as they look a lot older than they are, they are getting into these sorts of establishments and drinking to excess.
"It's not running out of control but it's a problem we are targeting."
And a national campaign targeting drunken yobs is due to be launched on Thursday as the government attempts to crack down on a problem estimated to cost the country £20billion a year.
According to government figures, alcohol abuse is the root cause of 44 per cent of violent crime and 70 pc of weekend night admissions to hospitals' accident and emergency departments.