Major festive crackdown on under age drinkers in Wrexham

Reporter:

Claire Gallagher

A CRACKDOWN on under age drinkers in Wrexham over the festive period has been launched.

And the message from the police and council is clear – if you are under age, don’t bother coming into town.

Parents are also being warned they face prosecution if their children are found drinking in the town.

Rhian Jones from the council’s Community Safety Partnership, said: “A key priority is to prevent and reduce anti-social behaviour and crime and to keep the town safe over Christmas.

“A lot of youngsters drink at home before coming into the town so we want to deter them coming into the town if they are under age.”

The problem of under age drinkers is clear from bar manager Alex Jones, who runs The Bank Wine Bar and Bistro on Church Street.

“There is a problem with under age drinkers and it does go on in the town,” he said.

“People come up to the door and show the doorman fake ID. People even come with their parents sometimes when clearly they are under age.

“And if the under age drinkers slip through the net and get served then the member of staff could be fined £80 on the spot.”

On repeat offences of serving to under age drinkers the licensee could face up to six months in prison or a £20,000 fine.

Even though the council’s Trading Standards are on the case checking dozens of bars and clubs across the town the rise of fake identification makes it more difficult for door staff.

Many staff operate a strict policy of only allowing passports, driving licences or the government’s PASS hologram card to be used as ID and also run the Challenge 25 scheme to ask anyone who looks younger than 25 to present identification.

Mr Jones added: “We have had cases with people glueing student cards together so that the back is changed to an 18 plus card.

“People try all sorts and it could potentially affect my livelihood – I could end up going to prison or with a big fine.”

The under age drinkers who don’t get into bars and clubs end up “floating around the town” according to Mr Jones.

“It means the inspector has then got to deal with these intoxicated kids who are just loitering around the town,” he said. “They don’t know how to behave if they are inexperienced with alcohol.”

Another problem is what is called “proxy buying” of alcohol by adults for youngsters.
Dave Gregory from Wrexham council’s Trading Standards said this type of sale is happening more frequently.

“In one premises in Wrexham there was a lad in a shop with his mum and he was pointing out what beer he wanted. We refused service as the mum was purchasing on behalf of her son and she got a fixed penalty.”

The message from town centre Inspector Alex Goss is also clear: “Don’t come into the town at all if you’re under age,” he said. “You will be caught out. We have CCTV and the Nightsafe scheme means most doorstaff are in communication with each other.

“It’s about making the town as safe a place as possible. We want to encourage people to have a good time and we don’t want to stop responsible drinkers, but we need to deal with the problem of under age drinkers to prevent anti-social behaviour.”

There will be extra policing at key times which have been identified as December 16, 17, 18, 24, 26 and 31 and January 1.

- Next week the Community Safety Partnership will be launching their festive safety campaign dubbed ‘Safe Wrexham’.

See full story in the Leader

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