Under-age drinking crackdown called for

Boy drinking beer Young people were more likely to get alcohol from relatives than from a shop, Demos said

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The government should introduce tougher punishments for parents, siblings and friends who buy alcohol for children, left-wing think tank Demos has urged.

It says offenders should do community service or be banned from shops.

Over a four-year period, just 16 people were convicted in the UK of buying alcohol for a child, it added.

The Institute of Alcohol Studies said tackling irresponsible shop promotions and minimum pricing would better tackle the UK's drinking problem.

The official advice from the chief medical officers across the UK is that no children should be given alcohol until they are 16.

They say alcohol should be given to older teenagers only under supervision of a carer or parent and never on more than one day a week.

'Proxy purchasers'

Demos said evidence showed young people were significantly more likely to get alcohol from relatives and older friends than from a shop.

Start Quote

Our research suggests tackling certain high-strength drinks, or just test purchasing shops, is not sufficient - we need a tougher, smarter approach”

End Quote Report author Jonathan Birdwell

On-the-spot fines of £90 can be issued for people who help children buy alcohol, while those convicted of the crime can be fined up to £5,000, according to Demos.

Its Sobering Up report says police should do more to enforce on-the-spot fines and prosecute adults.

Those caught breaking the law in this way should be "named and shamed" on posters by shop counters, it added.

The report said it was "extremely difficult for local shops to identify and act against proxy purchasers".

Report author Jonathan Birdwell said "under-age drunkenness increases alcohol risks in later life".

"Our research suggests tackling certain high-strength drinks, or just test-purchasing shops, is not sufficient - we need a tougher, smarter approach," he added.

"This includes threatening parents who buy alcohol for their children to drink unsupervised with 'social shaming' like community service."

Demos is also recommending "booze borders" where police refuse very drunk people entry into city centres in areas with high levels of alcohol-related crime or health problems.

Minimum pricing

Alcohol education charity Drinkaware "warmly welcomed" the report, saying it supported parents "in their position as positive role models when it comes to alcohol".

"We know from our own research that parents frequently provide alcohol to older children, in a belief that introducing alcohol in the home is a good way to teach young people about responsible drinking," chief executive Elaine Hindal said.

"In fact, contrary to popular belief, evidence shows that young people who start drinking at an early age drink more and more frequently than those who delay their first alcoholic drink."

But Katherine Brown, from the Institute of Alcohol Studies charity, said measures such as community service and naming and shaming were not the answer.

"The real way to tackle to the problem of drinking in the UK is to address the bigger issues, such as pricing, through policies such as minimum unit pricing," she added.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    I think the writers of this report should first confess whether they drank before the legal age to buy and how that was obtained.

    I did, everybody I know did and I'm sure if I asked my parents and grandparents (if they were still alive) they would say they did.

    So as previous generations have all done this why is it suddenly a problem for the current generation?

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    @8. Mega Awesume Pooster

    What would Jesus say? Alcohol should be banned like all other drugs. Either that or the drinking age should be 28 and anyone found drinking under that age should be tagged indefinetly


    I couldn't give a toss what you or Jesus thinks about it. Cheers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.

    For me the problem with this report is that it leads to the same conclusions as many others(driving using a mobile phone/littering etc) - OK - it may be right to ban A or B - but if you suggest using the law to enforce the un-enforceable - all it does it weaken peoples respect for the law when they see other people ignoring it, and conclude they can do the same.
    Tell me how you'd enforce this??

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    I wouldn't mind betting that those calling for the clampdown themselves drank before they were 18.

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    I've noticed that there seemed to be less underage drinking when smoking was allowed in pubs.

    I think this is because the parents would do their drinking down t'pub, whereas now they buy alcohol from supermarkets, giving their kids easy access to it at home where, unfortunately, some nick it and get bladdered with their mates

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    I thought that the universal panacea of raising the price of a unit of alcohol was the answer to ALL alcohol and alcohol related problems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.


    Without sounding rude, we have loads of religions neither can claim any form of morel high ground due to the fact that all religions at some point cause or have the following:

    Wars = Murder
    Knowledge suppression,
    Torture = Spanish inquisition
    Paedophiles etc...

    That's just the so called good ones

    So religion on alcohol in relation to morels just makes me sick

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    Hmm, you can tell this is a BS story because they forgot the numbers. Where is the evidence for this? Is teenage drinking rising or falling?
    If you're a Daily Mail reader you'll say yes, of course its rising! Kids today are drunken yobs who'll mug you and rob you!
    If you're someone who digs a little, you'll find there's no real evidence for this at all. Alcohol sales are falling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.

    the university culture is at fault too. My daughter hated freshers week becuase she had hoped to partcipate in sports activities rather than pub crawls that were arranged by the red brick university itself. This is in direct contrast to my son's experience at an American university, where drinking was banned

  • rate this

    Comment number 351.

    Matthew 320: You refer to John 2:9 where Jesus revealed his glory at a Wedding In Cana, The Apostle Paul writer of Ephsians,in Chapter 5 verse 9 of the book warns follwers
    against getting drunk on wine because it leads to immoral behaviour. The same would today be true then true of getting drunk on any alcoholic drink. The immoral behaviour deglorifies Christ.

  • rate this

    Comment number 350.

    I wish we could instead, crack down on all these left-wing think tanks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 349.

    You might as well talk to the wall with some parents ! As long as the kids don't bother them they do what they like ! Vandalism, drugs , disrespect and the rest follow. The country is turning into a cesspit .

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    Mega Awesume Pooster #8

    "What would Jesus say? Alcohol should be banned like all other drugs."

    Matt. 11:19 actually reports Jesus as saying:

    "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.'"

    And I seem to remember something about turning water into wine....

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    Matthew:re post 320... Alcohol dehydrates, so anyone living in 40+ degree heat wouldn't be drinking anything containgalcohol, not unless they were stupid because dehydration is already a much greater risk. Sorry

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.



    Look if you live in rural Britain you know the place where city and town folk forget food comes from, you may only use the supermarket twice a month if not just once as it could be miles away relying on "needs must over priced to survive small local shops" there may only be one or two if that, so why get rid of the offer just because city folk can't Handel there Beer!

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    Simple stop all the cheap deals in supermarkets, and corner shops, it is simply to cheap to buy drink.

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    201etiam si omnes ego non

    Britain has a massive drink problem and that is just the quality of what you drink: massive glasses of cheap Australian or Californian dodgy wine and alco-garbage of any kind as long as it is in cardboard boxes and under 99p. Depressing
    Yes, they should have better tastes, and be drinking real ale. Less likely to get blotto if what you're drinking has a taste, yes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    Funny how these 'left wing 'groups are always trying to control and punish the population they purport to represent.
    The present laws on drunkenness and bad behaviour are adequate. What is patently lacing is the political will to enforce them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 342.


    Thank you for the response, although you do have to wonder why we do not follow the French as I does not matter who is in power left or Right, they agree that bar's and cafes should remain family places and Alcohol/gambling should not play a part in sports advertising even visitors have to comply


  • rate this

    Comment number 341.

    337+339 cont.. All I suggest is that that some policies need to change so that the recieve is not an essential step to membership. If alohol free drink (for example soft brews were available all community/other venues and religious celebrations then everyone regardless of their age/ faith would be able to enjoy themselves.P.S sory if this is off topic or bores others.


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