PS Leet's November Article 

A recent Coroner's inquest into the tragic death of a 16 year old boy from the local area has thrown the spotlight upon the police response to underage drinking. The press, quite rightly, reported on the tragedy and the dreadful loss of a young life. However they did the police a great disservice in failing to report - or even acknowledge - the intervention work which had previously been undertaken - not only with the young person and family involved in that tragic incident but with many hundreds of others.

The story that was consistently presented to readers over a period of many weeks was that of police officers "hassling" and intimidating young people simply because they were under the influence of alcohol. The truth is far from that and the damage that such reporting can do to the relationship between police and the Community can be extremely damaging. Let me try to balance those stories up....

Where a young person is found by police in possession or under the influence of alcohol, we will, wherever possible, let their parents know. This will usually be by taking that young person home so that they are off the streets and the parents can take responsibility for them. This is not "hassling" the youth concerned - it is looking after their welfare. I am sure I do not need to explain here the many ways - both short and long term - in which alcohol makes a young person vulnerable.

If the youth comes to police notice a second time in similar circumstances, they will again be taken home and a visit to the family home will subsequently be made by police and a member of the City's Anti-Social Behaviour Team in order to speak to the young person and their parents/carer. The purpose of this visit is to express our concerns that the young person should be drinking alcohol and also to offer support to them or the family. Such support is often in the form of an Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ie setting boundaries for the young person's behaviour) and can also be around Parenting Support or referrals to other services such as alcohol misuse support groups. If that young person continues to come to our notice then we will raise our response accordingly and consider enforcement measures, such as Anti Social Behaviour Orders, if necessary.

Between 2005 & 2008, over 2000 young people were stopped in possession or under the influence of alcohol in East Brighton. The majority of these were in the Preston Park area. 350 home visits were conducted and, from these, numerous support measures were put in place. Rest assured, we do not "hassle" or "harass" young people. The important thing is that we do not turn a blind eye and identify those that need our support the most. I am confident that we have done that in the past and will continue to do so. Don't let the local press kid you otherwise.