A LASER light show launched by police last night sent a striking warning to young drinkers in a North town. Huge crime prevention messages were projected onto one of the tallest buildings in Peterlee, County Durham, in a crack-down on anti-social behaviour.
Lee House, in Lee Terrace, became a giant billboard for the warnings to youths and their parents that excess drinking on street-corners will not be tolerated.
The Peterlee Neighbourhood Police Team were out in force as part of Operation Staysafe, which aims to prevent young people coming to harm through alcohol abuse.
During the Easington Community Safety Partnership project, officers worked alongside the local Youth Offending Team, alcohol intervention workers and voluntary agencies.
Chief Inspector Elaine Taylor, of Durham Police, said: “Large groups of young people, even when they are doing nothing wrong, can be intimidating and can raise the fear of crime.
“When they drink to excess they become a nuisance and a risk to themselves.
“They are more likely to have accidents, get involved in violent incidents, engage in anti-social behaviour and be arrested when they are drunk.
“The laser show asks parents if they know where their children are, what they are drinking and who is bringing them home tonight? Parents have a responsibility to make sure their children are safe and hopefully this message will remind them of that responsibility.”
During Operation Staysafe, which is part of a national operation, young people found drinking in public were taken home by the police and their parents warned to control their children.
Where alcohol is identified as an issue, help and treatment will be offered as part of a long term approach to solving the problem.
Youth workers will also be on hand to point out alternative pastimes for youngsters to get involved in. The police operation has the full support of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, recently established to tackle the problems associated with the region’s heavy drinking culture.
Dave Hogg, the crime and disorder programme manager for Balance, said: “The Staysafe operation is a positive response to the rising problem posed by young people binge drinking. While statistics show that fewer young people are drinking, the evidence reveals that those that do are drinking more.
“I know that alcohol plays a big role in the majority of cases that the police deal with, particularly at weekends and that excessive drinking can turn ordinary people into criminals or victims of crime, particularly violent crime. Young people are especially vulnerable so this kind of initiative is particularly important.”
The police action is part of the national Operation Staysafe initiative, a key part of the £100m cross-government Youth Crime Action Plan launched in July 2008.
This operation is supported by the Tackling Violent Crime Programme coordinated by Government Office North East. Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, is a first in the UK, established to tackle the issues associated with the heavy drinking culture in North East England. The initiative – supported by the region’s NHS primary care trusts, local authorities and three police forces – aims to take a coordinated approach to alcohol and the many problems associated with its misuse.