Police crackdown on binge drinking

POLICE in North Devon are spearheading an alcohol awareness campaign as part of a drive to combat figures that placed Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and Bideford at the top of Devon’s binge drinking league tables.

NHS statistics from April 2005 to March 2009 showed the three towns had the highest hospital admission rates per head of population for alcohol-related issues in the whole of the county.

In his autumn community update, Northern Devon Police Commander Superintendent Kevin Harris said that the misuse of alcohol had the greatest impact on community safety, particularly in terms of violent crime and anti-social behaviour.

This week, officers throughout North Devon will be engaging with young people as part of a Devon and Cornwall-wide Alcohol Awareness Week initiative designed to educate people about the effects of irresponsible drinking.

On Friday, officers held an impact day at Chulmleigh Community College designed to educate Year 9 students on the risks associated with drinking.

South Molton police held a similar alcohol awareness session with young people at the town’s skate park yesterday (Tuesday), and further lessons with local police beat managers will take place at Pilton Community College throughout the week.

Today, officers will be joined by youth workers from the Y-Smart drug and alcohol service at the Green Lanes Shopping Centre in Barnstaple, from 2-5pm.

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They’ll be asking under-19-year-olds about their experiences with alcohol and advising them how they can enjoy a safe night out without alcohol. On Saturday night, officers in Barnstaple will be targeting adults who buy alcohol for drinkers under the age of 18.

And. for the first time ever, they’ll be holding face-to-face street briefings with revellers to find out how safe they feel in Barnstaple town centre and what kind of things they’d like to see the police introduce to improve safety.

“We’ve never asked the question before and it’s a question that needs to be asked,” said neighbourhood support team Sergeant Mark Harper.

“We hope to be able to speak with a real cross-section of people at all types of licensed premises and ask them how safe they feel out in the town at night.

“Be it positive or negative feedback, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of responses we get from people.

“People are much more likely to commit crime under the influence of alcohol, but we want to be able to highlight the issues and educate people to use alcohol responsibly.”

Next month, a special six-week drug and alcohol education programme is being held in Barnstaple for parents and carers.

The “How to Drug Proof Your Kids” course – already attended by more than 200 North Devon parents – takes place at the Tarka Tennis Centre on Wednesday, November 10 from 7.15pm.

“When it comes to drug and alcohol misuse, prevention is so much better than cure,” said course team leader Inspector Roger Bartlett.

“The course is for anyone who wants to protect their child whether they are already worried their child is drinking too much or taking drugs or just wanting to avoid having that dreaded call from the police or the hospital.

“The feedback from those who attend is that they really enjoy themselves and learn so much.”

To book or find out more information call (01271) 336271 or visit www.dpyknorthdevon.co.uk

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