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   Inside Out - South: Monday January 9, 2006

Underage Drinkers

Tray of drinks
Under age drinking - time for action?

Britain is the teenage drinking capital of Europe and the statistics are staggering.

A third of 14-year-olds and half of 15-year-olds drink alcohol on a weekly basis.

Over 1,000 children under 13 need emergency treatment for alcohol poisoning every year.

Inside Out goes out with Dorset Police as they tackle the problem of underage drinking in the suburbs of Bournemouth.

Drunken teenagers

Every Friday night, PC Dave Fish and the team trawl the estates around Bournemouth flushing out drunk kids. Some are as young as 12.

The police pick them up and take them home to their parents.

"This fifteen-year-old has lost bodily functions," says PC Fish, who's decided that one girl's evening has come to an end.

She's put in the mini cell in the back of the police van and delivered back home.

"She says her dad was going to come and get her but the truth is when we got her home her dad was in bed," says PC Fish.

Three police vans go out from Winton Police station every Friday night and on average they take home 15 under age drinkers each throughout the course of the night.

"Binge drinking seems to be part of British culture and the age at which young people start to drink large amounts is getting increasingly younger, and the amount they drink has almost doubled in the last few years".
Helen Simmons, Alcohol Concern.

Even on a cold winter night, PC Fish and the team find a group of girls drinking vodka and smoking cannabis in the park.

As part of the initiative the police also target off-licences to make sure they're on board and not inadvertently selling alcohol to children.

But the teenagers also tell the team how easy it is to get hold of booze.

"We go up to people at bus stops and ask them to get it for us. You gotta have a little drink if it calms you down haven't you?" says one 14-year-old boy.

Inside Out investigates the extent of the problem and asks what could be done to tackle it in future.

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Brittle bone

Baby in traction
Fragile - brittle bone disease benefits from early detection

Linda Robson tells the story of the Ingram family and their fight for a proper diagnosis of their two girls who suffer from brittle bone disease.

When their daughter Kerry was six-weeks-old she suffered from unexplained fractures, which immediately put her parents under suspicion of child abuse.

Her parents, Sally and Derek, were only allowed to see Kerry if somebody else was present.

"I think people that knew me suspected Derek and people who knew Derek suspected me,"' says Sally.

'We both knew the other wasn't capable of it."

The Ingrams nearly had their daughter taken away from them but were saved at the eleventh hour by a doctor who recognised the symptoms of brittle bone disease.

"Life could've been very different," says Sally Ingram.

High risk of fractures


Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) is the medical name for brittle bones. It refers to a range of conditions resulting from abnormalities in the protein structure of the bones.

Some children with OI are born with fractures, others have their first injury soon after birth, others when they try to walk for the first time.

There are several types of OI and those with the condition may have only 10-20 fractures during their childhood years, others may have 100 or more.

In some cases, mostly milder ones, the disorder passes from one generation to another. In most severe cases it comes 'out of the blue' with no signs in either parent.

Each fracture has to be treated carefully to ensure the bones heal properly and Orthopaedic surgery can sometimes help.

Source: Brittle Bone Society

Brittle bone disease is caused by an abnormality in collagen protein that the body needs for bones as well as other structures such as skin, ligaments and teeth.

The condition often leads to an increased likelihood of fractures.

In severe cases, babies can have multiple fractures even before birth.

The frequency of fractures may increase in adolescence, following childbirth in women and during late adulthood.

There is no 'cure' but work is progressing into a number of drug treatments.

However these are still at the stage of clinical trials and are not widely available as yet.

The Ingrams tell their story and how they coped when their second daughter, Rachel, was also born with the rare disease.

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The Emperor - king amongst Dragonflies

Dragonflies are older than dinosaurs, can reach speeds of around 40 mph and are ferocious predators.

Inside Out visits Thursley Common in Surrey, a mecca for dragonflies.

It’s the best spot in the country, with 26 recorded species.

These creatures have been around for 325 million years.

In those days they were very big - the size of a kestrel. Today they are smaller and under threat.

In Britain we have around 40 recorded breeding species - but a third of those are on the danger list.

Two thirds of all our UK species of Dragonfly have been regularly recorded at Thursley and one of the best ways to get a close up look - is to find a place in the sun.

To find out more about these fantastic creatures Inside Out visits Thursley with one of the UK's top Dragonfly expert Raury Mackenzie-Dodds to see just how many different kinds we can spot.

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