Preston joins battle to combat underage drinking after rise in cases

Preston has joined the frontline in the battle to curb underage drinking.

By Brian Ellis
Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 12:30 pm

A new Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) has been launched in the city to highlight the risks alcohol poses to young people.

And mums and dads are being targeted too after shocking figures show almost four in five of all children who drink are given alcohol by their parents.

The city council has joined forces with the police, LCC, substance misuse services, Community Gateway, plus local schools and retailers to tackle the issue.

Campaign has been launched to combat underage drinking in Preston.

A senior councillor says concerns have been raised about the levels of underage drinking and anti-social behaviour in the city.

Coun Robert Boswell, cabinet member for environment and community safety, said: "To tackle the issues raised a Community Alcohol Partnership has been established to help reduce some of the harm that alcohol causes in our communities and to our young people.

"We believe it will be a really positive influence on the area.”

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Posters and leaflets being distributed at Ashton News in Wellington Street, Preston.

More than 200 CAPs have been set up in the UK since 2007 to combat an increasing alcohol problem amongst under-18s.

But prior to the Preston launch only three of those - Burnley, Hyndburn and Skelmersdale - were operating in Lancashire.

Yet one figure in the county has recently won a national award for the way she has been trying to educate parents.

Samantha Beetham, the senior alcohol and tobacco officer in LCC's Trading Standards team, was rewarded for her work tackling underage drinking and promoting the health and wellbeing of young people in Lancashire.

Other areas claim a significant fall in underage drinking after CAPs is set up.

She received the CAP award for parental education for the county's Where's The Harm? project at an event in Westminster on June 6.

The LCC campaign stemmed from a 2020 survey in which 78 per cent of children in Lancashire who drank alcohol said it was provided by their parents.

The team set out to change perceptions of how appropriate it is for parents to give alcohol to under-18s and encourage them to speak to their children about alcohol.

Kate Winstanley, director of Community Alcohol Partnerships, said: "I am delighted to see the launch of a CAP in Preston.

"Underage drinking is associated with school and educational problems, unprotected sex, drug-taking, violence and drinking problems in later life.

"In just over a decade CAP has set up more than 200 partnerships around the UK and our evaluations show they are having a significant impact on reducing children’s alcohol consumption, improving their health and wellbeing and enhancing the communities where they live."

The Preston CAP will work with youth services and local organisations to provide alcohol-free leisure and sports activities for young people.

It will also work with local schools to take a proactive approach to alcohol education and to ensure young people are equipped to make the right decisions about issues including alcohol and drugs and anti-social and criminal behaviour.

It will help local retailers to avoid making underage sales and reduce ‘proxy’ sales where adults buy alcohol for under-18s.

CAPs says that in areas where it has branches there has been a significant effect. It has seen a 61 per cent reduction in weekly drinking among 13 to 16-year-olds and a 50 per cent reduction in young people hanging around shops and asking adults to buy alcohol for them.