Cornwall MP Gilbert urges parental control on alcohol
- 1 November 2011
- From the section Cornwall
A Cornish MP has called for a clampdown on parents giving their children alcohol to take on holiday.
St Austell and Newquay MP Stephen Gilbert won an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday about underage drinking.
In October, police said 70% of children caught drinking in the Cornish resort of Newquay received alcohol from their parents.
Mr Gilbert wants parents to be forced to take responsibility.
'Difficult to enforce'
The debate allowed the Commons to discuss Mr Gilbert's points without requiring the House to vote.
He said: "[I'm] asking the government whether the rules on proxy buying - that's the buying of alcohol by parents for children, can be tightened with reference to parents.
"Police find it very difficult to enforce that law... parents often say they didn't buy it for the child, the child happened to get hold of it."
Mr Gilbert wants the government to introduce a law that would mean if a parent supplied alcohol to an underage person, they must be there to see them drink it.
"We're talking about a minority of parents here... it's about raising it as an issue and asking the government to look at the loophole," he added.
It is not illegal for a person under 18 to drink alcohol at home or at a friend's house. Parents can choose to give young people some of their own alcohol when at home.
It is against the law for an adult to buy or attempt to buy alcohol on behalf of someone under 18.
Last month, Supt Julie Whitmarsh from Devon and Cornwall Police described the statistics as "scary".
Most of the teenagers caught drunk and disorderly said they were sent to Cornwall with alcohol, rather than attempting to buy it in local shops, police said last month.
They added that although some parents were shocked about their children's behaviour, other parents verbally abused officers who confiscated the alcohol.
More than 4,000 under 18s visited Newquay over the summer, according to figures from a Newquay Safe Partnership campaign to prevent underage drinking.
During Operation Brunel, which aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour and disorder in the town, officers confiscated 1,044 unopened bottles and cans of alcoholic drink and poured away more than 5,000 that were open.