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Town bans under-21 alcohol sales

youth drinking
The aim is to cut down on anti-social behaviour

A West Lothian town is to become the first in Scotland to ban alcohol off-sales to people under 21.

The pilot scheme in Armadale will initially run for six weeks.

Every off-sale retailer in the town has signed up to the new scheme which means anyone who looks under the age of 25 will be asked for identification.

Those who cannot prove they are at least 21 will be denied alcohol. The aim of the scheme is to cut down on anti-social behaviour.

This strategy has been tried before in the north of England.

Cleveland Police introduced a similar scheme and it proved so successful it was adopted permanently.

It's a very good example of a local community including shopkeepers working together to tackle what is obviously a serious problem in many parts of Scotland
Dr Bruce Ritson
Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems

The Armadale pilot is a partnership with the local council, police and retailers.

A decision on whether it should be extended to other towns will be taken once the initial six weeks have been assessed.

West Lothian councillor Isabel Hutton backed the project.

She said: "This initiative will not prevent all youths getting hold of alcohol, but I am sure it will help in reducing alcohol-related, anti-social behaviour, and that will be beneficial to the Armadale community.

"It's too early to say if this project will be rolled out across other areas in West Lothian but we will record and assess the results of this pilot project and consider the options."

Major role

Pc Phillip McIntosh, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: "Youth disorder is often linked to alcohol, and Armadale is no different to any other town in West Lothian, or indeed Scotland, where a minority of young people can get their hands on alcohol and often leads to anti-social behaviour.

"Our intention is not only to limit under-age access to alcohol but to educate those who may have been involved in supplying alcohol to children that they are committing an offence."

A West Lothian Council spokesman stressed Armadale, with a population of about 9,000, had not been chosen because its alcohol-related problems were particularly bad.

Practical considerations, such as getting all the off-sales in the town to agree to the scheme, played a major role, he said.

Dr Bruce Ritson, chairman of Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, said: "I think this is a very welcome pilot. It is a very good example of a local community including shopkeepers working together to tackle what is obviously a serious problem in many parts of Scotland."

"Enforcement is going to be a very important part of it."

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