Page last updated at 16:13 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 17:13 UK

Under-age drinkers plaguing town

Teens drinking (generic)
Police said youths are descending on Lochgelly from nearby towns

Up to 200 teenagers are descending on a Fife town every week for co-ordinated drinking sessions, it has been claimed.

Locals said youths were descending on Lochgelly from nearby towns such as Cardenden, Ballingry, and Cowdenbeath.

Children as young as 12 were said to be getting drunk before causing trouble in Friday night gatherings, which it is thought are arranged in the classroom.

Community wardens have tried free cinema tickets and minibuses to youth clubs to curb the problem.

But they say the children only want to drink and the only thing that would get them off the streets is a "pub for kids".

I had 50 or 60 young people hanging about outside my shop on Friday, drinking, smoking, swearing, blocking the door to customers
Arif Ashfaq
Lochgelly News Plus
Bruce Lepley, a community warden based in Lochgelly, said: "I would estimate there was about 200 kids on Friday night.

"The police took a lot of drink. I don't know how much exactly, but it was a lot.

"We have seen kids as young as 12 necking litre bottles of Buckfast and cider and we are the ones that have to deal with the aftermath.

"In the last few weeks the number of calls we have had has tripled. It could be about anything from kids screaming in the street to starting fires and vandalising property. We have tried everything.

"They just want to drink. They want a pub for kids."

'More police'

Arif Ashfaq, who runs Lochgelly News Plus in Knockhill Close, said: "It is a big problem.

"I had 50 or 60 young people hanging about outside my shop on Friday, drinking, smoking, swearing, blocking the door to customers.

"I don't understand why, but they're coming here from all over. We need more police because they're just playing hide and seek with officers just now."

Community Sgt Derek Paxton said his officers confiscated 14 litres of alcohol last weekend.

He said: "There is no denying that Lochgelly seems to have become the place to go for young people.

"What we have found is they discuss and decide where they want to go at school.

"We are well aware of the problem and we will be out in even greater numbers this weekend.

"We would also appeal to all local shop workers to be very vigilant against adults buying alcohol for children."


SEE ALSO
Pilot booze ban hailed a success
02 May 08 |  Scotland
Town bans under-21 alcohol sales
28 Mar 08 |  Scotland

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