Newquay underage drinkers given alcohol by parents

Newquay alcohol seized
Image caption More than 6,000 bottles and cans of alcohol were confiscated or poured away this summer

Seven out of 10 under-age drinkers caught in the Cornish holiday resort of Newquay were given alcohol by their parents, according to police.

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.

Supt Julie Whitmarsh from Devon and Cornwall Police described the statistics as "scary".

The force has called for a "national debate" about parental responsibility.

It said although some parents were shocked about their children's behaviour, others verbally abused officers who confiscated the alcohol.

Many of the 15 and 16-year-olds stopped had been allowed to travel to Cornwall alone with friends to celebrate the end of exams.

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, officers confiscated 1,044 unopened bottles and cans of alcoholic drink and poured away more than 5,000 that were open.

The force said it was talking to the Home Office about ways of prosecuting parents who stock their children up with drink before they leave home.

Supt Whitmarsh said drinking on holiday with peers, without parental control, was a "different situation" than having alcohol at home.

"At what point is it a good idea to leave children with alcohol," she said.

Cans of lager

In the most serious cases, parents were telephoned and told to collect their children while a further 71 families were sent warning letters.

Supt Whitmarsh said one officer was verbally abused by a parent who accused him of stopping her son "having fun". The teenager was one of four 16-year-olds caught with 64 cans of Special Brew.

Another mother dismissed an officer's concerns, claiming her child was "not the usual riff-raff".

Police said these were examples of parents not taking their role seriously.

Newquay Safe Partnership was formed in 2009 after the deaths of two teenagers.

Andrew Curwell, 18, from Saddleworth in Greater Manchester, was found at the foot of cliffs at Great Western Beach on 28 June and the following week, 16-year-old Paddy Higgins, from Wokingham in Berkshire, died after falling from cliffs above Tolcarne Beach.

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