New powers to tackle underage drinking, including making it easier for police to confiscate alcohol, move on groups of teenagers causing trouble and stop retailers selling to underage children came into effect this week.
The powers were introduced through the Policing and Crime Act 2009 and include:
- confiscating alcohol from young people - by amending police powers to confiscate alcohol so they no longer need to prove that the individual 'intended' to consume the alcohol;
- making it easier to move on groups of young people - by extending the police's ability to issue 'Directions to Leave' so that they can be issued to people aged 10-15;
- greater power to tackle persistent underage drinkers - by introducing a new offence for under-18s of persistently possessing alcohol in a public place; &
- tackling those selling alcohol to children - by changing the offence of persistently selling alcohol to under 18s from three strikes within three months to two strikes in the same period.
The new powers are part of a wider government strategy to tackle underage drinking and associated crime and disorder, which was set out in the Youth Alcohol Action Plan published in 2008.
Also coming into effect are tough new powers for local councillors to tackle problem premises. In addition to the police and members of the public, local councillors will now also be able to call for a review to restrict or remove an alcohol retailer's licence.
Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said:
"Alcohol-related violent crime is down by a third since 1997 but we are continuing to take action through a wide-ranging strategy of enforcement and education.
"The majority of young people are model citizens but there are a minority that are not. These powers will make it easier for police to take tough action against those groups whose behaviour can affect a whole community."
The Government plans to back up enforcement with prevention and support for young people, by providing them with activities and places to go to, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights, so they have positive alternatives to drinking.