Adults targeted in under-age drinking crackdown

© DC Thomson
Alcohol on sale in Scotland

Adults who buy alcohol for children will be targeted by police in a winter blitz on underage drinking.

Officers in Perth have pledged action following complaints about large gatherings of youths after dark, particularly in the South Inch area.

Police Scotland said it has identified local shops where youngsters have been able to obtain bottles and cans of booze, despite a strict Challenge 25 policy in place across the city.

Investigators believe groups of children are striking a deal with adults to buy bagfuls of cider, lager and alcopops on their behalf.

Now they are drawing up a strategy to snare unscrupulous shoppers, and the retailers who sell to them.

Licensing sergeant Gordon Peebles assured that efforts to clamp down on underage drinking would be enhanced over the winter months.

“This week we have been reviewing possible tactical options to deal with what are known as proxy sales, and target certain individuals who are buying on behalf of underage persons,” he said at a meeting of Perth and Kinross Council’s Licensing Board.

“It is about getting the message across to shopkeepers, that if certain people are coming in repeatedly to buy suspicious amounts of alcohol, it should be setting off alarm bells.”

Sgt Peebles said: “I’m now looking at what action we can take against the premises themselves, and we do know the shops where these sales are coming from.

“I can assure that we do have options under consideration just now for the matter of proxy sales and we will be progressing that through the community policing teams.”

Perth City South councillor Willie Wilson (Liberal Democrat) said: “I think we are all concerned about young people’s sometimes very unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

“We have a particular problem in the city of Perth, although it happens in settlements throughout Perth and Kinross. We have gatherings of young people, some under-age and some just on the cusp of legal allowance, and it is quite clear that intermediaries are purchasing alcohol on their behalf.”

He said: “It is quite difficult to establish who these intermediaries are, and also which premises are involved, but Perth is a relatively small city and I’m seeking assurances from the police that they will continue to work with partners – the council and others – to try and identify who is buying this drink and secondly, identify the premises. I understand there are relatively few premises involved.”

Mr Wilson said groups of youngsters were known to hang out in South Inch and under the railway bridge, generating complaints about antisocial and threatening behaviour from locals.