Three strikes and you’re out, under-age drinkers told

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YOUNGSTERS caught boozing repeatedly now face being third time unlucky.

A new three-strikes system is being introduced to deal with persistent under-age drinkers in North Tyneside.

Under-18-year-olds caught with alcohol for the first time will be given a warning by police.

Those coming to the police’s attention on a second occasion will be referred to the borough’s youth offending prevention service.

Youths failing to heed those two warnings and caught boozing for a third time will face arrest.

The new scheme is intended to give young people a chance to mend their ways before they end up with a criminal record.

Sessions run by the youth offending team will explain the health implications of drinking and the impact alcohol can have.

Youngsters will also be told how drinking alcohol can make them vulnerable, putting their personal safety at risk, and can also lead to anti-social behaviour.

Inspector Tony Blacklock, pictured, of the police’s North Tyneside area command, said: “The public have told us about problems of youths drinking alcohol on the street and in other public places.

“To tackle this, we’re working with local authority partners and the youth offending prevention service.

“We want to avoid unnecessarily criminalising young people, but we also want to prevent them drinking alcohol in public.

“To date, while several hundred youths have been stopped in possession of alcohol, most have heeded advice and only a few of the most persistent offenders have been arrested.”

Pc Mark Arnold, of the youth offending team, added: “We deliver robust education programmes designed to address alcohol misuse and divert young people from further involvement in the youth justice system.

“To prevent the police taking further action, the young person must engage with our programme.”

Seven youngsters caught drinking in Monkseaton and Cullercoats on Friday by Whitley Bay’s neighbourhood policing team were taken home and warned about their behaviour in front of their parents.

The teenagers – from Monkseaton, Whitley Bay, Longbenton and Cramlington – had beer and cider taken off them.

Sergeant Mal Wallace said: “Preventing anti-social behaviour is one of our policing priorities as local residents have told us they’re concerned about it.

“This has been a particular issue in the Cullercoats area in the past, and our targeted patrols aim to prevent this problem.

“We know from experience that under-18s who drink alcohol are more likely to become involved in anti-social behaviour. This not only makes them vulnerable to becoming involved in youth disorder, but also puts them at risk from harm as their judgement becomes impaired.

“We are determined to continue to target this issue, and these patrols will continue.”