Under-18s to be used in alcohol sale 'stings'

Underage youths will be used by police in sting operations to catch shops and pubs which sell alcohol to minors, Home Office minister Hazel Blears confirmed today.

Offending outlets and venues may also be named and shamed as part of a major new campaign to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence.

Ms Blears outlined the crackdown as new Home Office crime figures revealed an 11% increase of recorded violent crime.

Unveiling the strategy at an O'Neill's bar in Islington, London, she said: "Much of this crime is alcohol-related, happens at night or at weekends, with young men the most likely victims.

"Further guidelines and measures to tackle alcohol-related crime and disorder will include a police-led campaign to cut down on underage drinking and the chaotic drink-fuelled scenes often found in our towns and city centres at throwing-out time."

She said that new tactics will include police forces sending under-18s into off-licences, bars or nightclubs to snare any outlets willing to sell them alcohol.

Those vendors found to breach licensing laws could have their details made public on a Monday morning, following weekend test purchase operations.

Ms Blears also confirmed that police and local authorities could join forces to use powers which allow them to close down premises for short periods of time.

"Out-of-control drinking can turn a night out into a nightmare. Seventy per cent of weekend night-time admissions to casualty are due to alcohol and in 50% of violent crimes the attacker is intoxicated," she said.

"The Government is cracking down on irresponsible landlords who encourage binge-drinking, we are going to put an end to no-go city centres - reclaiming them for decent, law-abiding citizens."

Intensive training sessions will also be provided for police and key figures in the drinks and retail industries, to ensure they are informed of all powers available to them to tackle alcohol-related crime.

Sting operations will begin this summer, backed by the Police Standards Unit and the Association of Chief Police Officers, who will co-ordinate the campaign across the country to support other efforts to reduce alcohol-related violence.

The Home Office confirmed that pubs, bars, restaurants, supermarkets and off licences will all be targeted in the new campaign, with individual police forces able to tailor the tactics to target specific problem areas.

Chris Allison, ACPO spokesman on alcohol related offending, said: "Police officers up and down the country are all too familiar with people who drink themselves to a point where they lose not only their inhibitions, but also their self control.

"Communities are sick of the aggressive behaviour, which all too often ensues after excessive drinking.

"Police officers have to wrestle daily with violent alcohol fuelled youths who fight each other, attack innocent people, disturb the peace and resist arrest.

"The evidence of drunken vandalism sprees is there for everyone to see - smashed bus shelters, shattered shop windows and vomit in doorways."

Last month, brewers and licensees were warned that they face tough clampdowns if they fail to tackle alcohol abuse as part of the Government's long awaited alcohol strategy.

The Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy for England proposes greater exclusion orders and an audit of alcohol treatment.

Alcohol advertising is also under review with the aim of discouraging binge drinking.

Statistics show that four out of 10 men and 22% of women admit to excessive drinking sessions - defined as the consumption of at least one bottle of wine or equivalent in a single sitting.

Eric Appleby, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: "Police having the power for sting operations or test purchasing is nothing new, they have had it for a couple of years.

"What is important here is showing they are serious about using them.

"One of the things we have been calling for is the Government centrally to show they mean business and are serious about tackling alcohol related problems.

"This cannot afford to be a flash in the pan."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas