Project launched to keep kids off booze

POLICE, charities and council officials have joined forces to launch a scheme intended to help keep youngsters out of trouble by giving them something else to do at nights.

Evening activities for young people in North Shields will be organised on a regular basis throughout 2011 as part of the Off Watch initiative.

The project hopes to reduce kerbside drinking by young people in the borough by providing them with diversionary activities on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The organisations involved – including North Tyneside Council, Northumbria Police, North Tyneside YMCA, Phoenix Detached Youth Project and North Tyneside Primary Care Trust – hope the initiative will prove popular.

More than 20 stores in and around North Shields are also taking part by specially marking the cheaper brands of alcohol favoured by youngsters so that if any of them are found in the possession of under-age drinkers they can be traced back to their source.

North Tyneside mayor Linda Arkley said: “I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to launch such an exciting initiative for our residents in the North Shields area.

“We have been working with young people throughout the last few months to identify what activities they would like to get involved in.

“Residents should also benefit from our work with the police to reduce the numbers of young people obtaining alcohol.”

Chief Superintendent Gary Calvert said: “Tackling under-age drinking and the problems of alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour and disorder are a priority for us in North Tyneside.

“This latest partnership initiative will help us to target this issue and provide a practical means to make sure off-licences take their responsibilities seriously and do all they can to prevent children getting hold of alcohol.

“The events on offer will also provide young people with enjoyable activities to get involved in.”

North Shields Neighbourhood Inspector Geoff Cross, pictured, added: “We regularly visit off-licences to offer support to staff and also to remind them of the necessity to remain vigilant so that alcohol does not get into the hands of children.

“We will continue to work with our partners, including the council’s trading standards officers, to make sure that shop staff always check the age of younger customers to prevent illegal sales of alcohol.

“We are pleased that so many local stores have signed up to support this initiative.”