Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Under age drinking in the UK - Then and now

It seems the Police have been cracking down on under age drinkers country wide. Around 25,thousand litres of alcohol - mostly beer and cider - were seized from around 5,000 ‘youths’, during a two-week operation involving 39 forces across England and Wales costing £700 thousand.

A Home Office spokesman boasted that information gathered by police during the operation would help them target individuals and trouble spots in future.

Sadly, this very comment, if anything this is an indication of just how bad things have become.

Minimal research informs that twenty years ago the officers who patrolled an area made it their business to know all their trouble spots and the individuals who needed targeting.

They acquired the information in their day to day patrolling and in conversation with their colleagues and the public. It was their bread and butter. They passed this information to someone who collated it, verified it, developed it and re distributed it.

Twenty years ago youths obtained alcohol, usually in the form of cheap lager, beer or cider, by means of either purchasing it from dodgy off licences of indirectly by getting, one way or another, older customers to buy for them.

Once obtained in sufficient amounts the ‘youths’ would have favoured haunts where they consumed it. Officers worth their salt would just happen to drop by to or discourage sales, visit the haunts and thus render them less attractive by their presence and take anyone too objectionable home to their parents.

This would be as effective with those who were not fond of authority as they would prefer to avoid a visit by the police and equally effective with many other households because of the embarrassment and would prefer to avoid a visit by the police in such circumstances.

So nothing has changed then – apart from the fact that it seems the police can effectively no longer just cart drunken youths directly home to a ‘place of safety’.

Much too much red tape - targets, ‘rights’ (courtesy of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown) and convoluted Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE courtesy of Maggie Thatcher) rules, for that now – Oh and according to the home office, who are admittedly probably pretty out of touch with real policing, , it apparently takes £700,000 pounds just to find out something that used to come automatically.