Getting a lesson on the dangers of drinkBy Lewis Rudd
October 22, 2010
Representatives from Thames Valley Police and Wokingham Borough Council are this week joining forces to address the problem of underage drinking.
Working in conjunction with local charities and organisations, the Alcohol Awareness Week aims to bring home the reality of youngsters drinking alcohol and the possible affects it can bring to society and communities.
Lewis Rudd explains more on what the week is all about.
Youngsters in Wokingham are this week learning more about the effects and consequences alcohol can have on them during a campaign aiming to address the problem of underage drinking.
On Monday, Thames Valley Police and Wokingham Borough Council launched its Alcohol Awareness Week, an event aiming to raise awareness of excessive alcohol consumption and hit home its short and long-term effects.
Throughout the week neighbourhood policing teams, working with community wardens and the drug and alcohol action team at the borough council, will be targeting underage drinkers and their parents or guardians.
Through the handing out of wrist bands, alcohol diaries and unit calculators, leaflets and posters it is hoped the message about the dangers of drinking alcohol, both physically and socially, can get across.
Officers will also be visiting secondary schools across the borough during the next few days to talk about alcohol related issues.
However, it is not just the young people of the borough who the campaign is targeted at, as adults are urged to take notice as well.
Co-ordinating the campaign is Anne Chalmers, who is the crime reduction advisor for the Wokingham Local Policing Area (LPA).
She said: “We really want to make people aware of the effects of drinking too much alcohol. We will be talking directly to young people and giving them advice and literature.
“We will also be talking to adults, including parents, by way of the Mobile Information Bus.
“Our schools liaison officer, PC Les Eke, will be attending assemblies in secondary schools in the Wokingham LPA to talk about alcohol awareness during the week.”
Teaming up with the two parties during the week will be representatives from the Woodley charity Just Around the Corner (JAC), whose volunteers work around the borough to turn youngsters away from drinking alcohol and committing anti-social behaviour.
And with Britain labelled with the unwanted tag of having one of the highest proportions of underage drinkers in Europe, those involved in the awareness week believe tackling the issue in a more approachable manner can help reduce this statistic.
Carol-Anne Bidwell, who works with the drug and alcohol awareness team at the borough council, said: “Teenage years are a difficult time for parents and many are concerned about their children drinking alcohol, particularly in relation to the risks involved in excessive drinking.
“The UK has one of the highest proportions of underage drinkers in Europe, but the trend is improving with the numbers of British young people abstaining from alcohol increasing year on year.
“However, those that do drink are drinking more.”
Apart from the Why Let Good Times Go Bad wrist bands and other advice being handed out this week, those wanting to find out further information about how to approach the subject with their children can call the Wokingham Information Network on (0118) 974 6772.
This service can also put clients in touch with other alcohol related services available both locally and nationally.
Jenny Bennett, community safety operations manager for Wokingham Borough Council, said: “Underage drinking is the main contributory factor to anti-social behaviour by young people across Wokingham, and we need to increase awareness among both young people and parents.”
Wokingham police have used the Operation Lion Cub initiative to tackle underage drinking in anti-social behaviour hotspots in recent months.
The operation enables officers to target patrols in problem areas.
Hotspots include Wokingham town centre and Woodley shopping precinct and parks.