534 bottles of drink taken from teenagers… but no convictions

underage drinking

By Catherine McCurry
OVER 530 bottles of alcohol have been confiscated from children and teenagers in Enniskillen but as yet there has not been a single conviction in relation to the incidents.
Today, this newspaper looks at Enniskillen’s underage drinking hotspots which are plaguing local police as well as local traders.
Around 534 bottles of beer, cider, alcopops, spirits and wine have been taken from youngsters over the last four years putting Enniskillen as the twelfth highest place in the North for confiscating alcohol, outside Belfast.
The large number of alcohol seized from teens signals bad news for the police force as they attempt to stamp out the growing problem.
According to Fermanagh’s PSNI Chief Inspector Roy Robinson, the issue stems from young people drinking on private buses on their way to night clubs in other towns, particularly Cookstown.
He identified areas around Enniskillen which are known drinking hotspots.
“We find that the Forum and round by the path from the footbridge at the Quay Lane car park, then on further by the castle and Broadmeadow Footbridge,” he said.
“We also confiscate alcohol from buses going to Cookstown from the car parks at the Dublin Road and in Irvinestown where young people are going to other venues.”
One of the problems police continuously face is that young people won’t claim ownership of the alcohol if they are caught on the street or on a bus. “When we take the young people off they won’t say where or how they got it so we speak to their parents about it. The problem is that legal aged people go into off-licences and buy drink for the younger teenagers and that creates a difficulty for staff in shops.”
He issued a stark warning to people who buy alcohol for under 18s.
“This is totally irresponsible as these young people may end up doing something they would never do in the cold light of day. The consequences can be very severe with many ending up in hospital. It something bad was to happen it would be totally and utterly devastating for their parents and these people buying drink for others could have someone else’s death on their conscience.”
Roy explained that police are keen to prosecute anyone who purchases alcohol for those under-age, however, he admitted it’s difficult to catch those in the act.
“There’s no control where a young person is drinking behind a hedge or under a bridge, it’s up to parents to help control this.”
In a bid to clamp down on underage drinkers, Adrian Loughrey, who works with the Time2Change project, a alcohol prevention programme, has been working with local sport, community, men and youth groups as well as the Devenish Partnership Forum.
The project aims to identify and address alcohol-related harms.
Adrian said: “To tackle underage drinking and access to alcohol we have developed the Off-licence Charter. Off-licence premises sign up to this and in doing so commit to a number of things, including not to sell alcohol to those who they believe to be under 18, not to sell alcohol to those who they believe will supply to under 18’s – proxy purchasing – and not to sell alcohol to anyone who is intoxicated.
“As part of this, we also offer training to off-licence staff on the effects of alcohol, alcohol-related harm and how they can deal with refusing sales. “This has been deliver in a number of areas including Lisnaskea, Irvinestown, Derrygonnelly, Belleek and Kesh. We hope to introduce it in the Enniskillen area in the next few months.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA