Police launch campaign against underage drinking

A NEW hard-hitting campaign to drive home the serious consequences of underage drinking has been unveiled by Antrim police.

The multi-agency campaign includes television advertisements and a booklet designed to encourage and support parents to talk to their children about alcohol.

It has been developed and supported by the Police Service, Northern Ireland Office, Northern Ireland Policing Board, Public Health Agency and Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

The centrepiece of the campaign is two new television adverts that highlight some of the possible consequences of underage drinking. The adverts show very normal parent/child conversations discussing what their children have been up to; but the subtitles tell the real truth. The children’s uncertainty is apparent to the viewer.

The campaign is part of a wider package of measures already put in place by the Police Service and partner agencies to tackle underage drinking and antisocial behaviour.

Minister for Policing and Justice Paul Goggins said: “Alcohol and minors don’t mix and the results of teenagers drinking alcohol are often disastrous. The focus of this campaign is to encourage parents to talk to their children to educate and inform them about the issues of alcohol and help promote responsible attitudes to drinking.

“Over 50 per cent of teenagers tell us that they have purchased their own alcohol. This campaign is part of a wider programme of initiatives to address issues such as access to alcohol by young people with the PSNI undertaking increased enforcement activity over the summer months.

“Working in partnership with all the relevant agencies and parents will help minimise the harm caused by underage drinking – protecting our young people and our community.”

“Welcoming the campaign the Health Minister Michael McGimpsey added: “Alcohol misuse is one of the biggest public health issues facing Northern Ireland. Our children and young people are particularly at risk, as they are far more vulnerable than adults to suffering physical, emotional and social harm from their own and from other people’s drinking. I believe this new campaign will help to empower parents and young people, to make healthy and informed decisions about alcohol.

“”Some parents may feel that introducing their children to alcohol in a controlled environment will help them to develop a responsible attitude to alcohol. However, the evidence is clear – an alcohol free childhood is the healthiest and best option. In fact, research has shown that the earlier a child starts drinking alcohol, the greater the risk of them having alcohol-related problems in later life.

“This is just one step in our ongoing efforts to address alcohol misuse, particularly young people’s drinking. These are not issues that can be tackled in isolation, but by working in partnership we can achieve positive outcomes. To this end, my Department has led the development of an integrated Action Plan to address young people’s drinking.

I anticipate that this will be launched shortly and today’s campaign is a key a part of this process.”

Area Commander for Antrim, Chief Inspector Simon Walls said: “We want this campaign to challenge parents to think twice about the serious consequences underage drinking can have.

“The consequences are severe to those young people who become victims of crime, incur serious injuries as a result of having drunk too much, or commit crime fuelled by alcohol, and to those others who do serious and life-threatening damage to their own health over the long term.

“Parents often underestimate how much influence they have on their children and hopefully this campaign will give them an opportunity to establish boundaries around alcohol.”