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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 10:55 GMT
Call to allow teen pub drinking
Police dealing with a drunk young person (generic picture)
North Wales Police surveyed drinking habits in teenagers
A North Wales Police inspector has called for 16-year-olds to be allowed to drink in pubs in a bid to reduce problems caused by underage drinking.

Inspector Roly Schwarz said controlled drinking in pubs would allow teenagers' alcohol consumption to be monitored.

A survey of 2,000 teenagers by North Wales Police found 88% of girls and 79% of boys aged 16 have been drunk.

North Wales Police said the views were the inspector's personal opinion and not those of the force.

Insp Schwarz said: "Young people are going to drink alcohol, but they must be shown how to enjoy it."

North Wales Police said a recent operation in north Denbighshire found that 39 licensed premises sold alcohol to underage drinkers.

Better monitored

Police research also found that children in the force area have spent more than 75,000 on alcohol this year.

Insp Schwarz, whose beat covers the seaside towns of Rhyl and Prestatyn, said children should be allowed into pubs when they are 16, but it should remain illegal for teenagers under 18 to drink alcohol outside licensed premises.

Controlled drinking in licensed premises would allow alcohol consumption by youngsters to be better monitored, he said.

You give your views on the issue of pub drinking for 16-year-olds.

Insp Schwarz added: "80% of children between the ages of 11 and 17 are given alcohol by their parents, but what their parents don't realise is that they are also drinking at other times."

The police survey revealed that of the 2,000 youngsters interviewed, 88% of 16-year-old girls had been drunk and 68% said that alcohol has caused them some form of harm.

Of boys the same age, 79% said they had been drunk and 42% had been injured or made ill through alcohol.

However, Miles Vaughan, chairman of the Rhyl and District Licensed Victuallers' Association said he opposed the idea of allowing 16 year olds to drink inside pubs.

"In principle I don't believe it's a licensee's position to supervise underage drinkers. I wouldn't be interested in letting 16 year olds into my premises," he said.

Mr Vaughan, also the Welsh chairman of the British Institute of Innkeeping added: "If we allow 16 year olds in we'll automatically get the 14 and 15 year olds coming in."

With 32 years in the pub industry, the landlord of the Royal Victoria in Prestatyn said it should not be up to him to educate teenagers about drinking alcohol.

"I think a lot of education through drink should begin at home. I think it's far too easy for parents to ignore what their children are getting up to," he added.

A spokesman for Age Concern also dismissed the idea.

He said: "Research shows that for people under the age of 18 and still growing up there is no amount of alcohol which can be drunk safely.

"On average, 13 people aged under 18 are admitted to hospital A&E departments for having drunk too much every night.

"We know a lot of under 18s already drink illegally in pubs and we need to rethink the way bars monitor all people who consume alcohol".

Bar staff fined for serving teens
01 Sep 05 |  South West Wales

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