Page last updated at 11:59 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Sheriff's 'midnight culture' fears

Sheriff Kevin Drummond is at the sharp end of dealing with some of the problems caused by alcohol.

Here he describes the extent of the problem, and his view on what should be done.

Sheriff Kevin Drummond
Sheriff Drummond said many cases were alcohol related

Many of the cases in the Scottish Borders which come before the sheriff have a clear link to drink.

It is the number of young people involved in particular which he feels needs to be addressed.

He explains: "I have carried out a pretty unscientific trawl of my own notes and over the past three months almost precisely 80% of the cases which have come through my court have been alcohol-related."

He describes the situation with young people as "pretty depressing" and not only for the criminal consequences.

"We are seeing more and more who are having health consequences at a younger and younger age," he says.

The sheriff believes that is clear evidence that not enough is being done to tackle the problem - despite significant government spending.

"My impression, for what it is worth, is that there is not the public appreciation of the extent of the problem," he says.

"It is a serious problem in our communities."

We need to do more to help to try to assist our young people in getting away from the problems of excessive alcohol consumption
Sheriff Kevin Drummond

Sheriff Drummond uses the term "midnight culture" to sum up the way of living of many teenagers and young adults.

He describes it is a lifestyle in which "excessive alcohol consumption, fighting, violence and vandalism" are common features.

"We need to do more to help to try to assist our young people in getting away from the problems of excessive alcohol consumption," he says.

'Sufficient resources'

He feels it is easy to believe that people could solve their own problems if they wanted too.

"There is probably a perception that somewhere out there there are more than sufficient resources or more than sufficient agencies to be able to deal with these problems if people want to take advantage of them," he says.

"Experience tends to suggest that that is not the case."

He is even aware of cases where people have committed crimes in order to "leapfrog the queue" to get treatment for their alcohol problems.

The only answer, he believes, is offering more assistance - particularly for young people trying to tackle their drinking.

Otherwise, his court is likely to be dealing with the consequences of the issue for some time to come.

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