Crafty kids beaten by booze bust

PUBLISHED: 11:47 01 November 2007 | UPDATED: 13:01 04 May 2010

DRINK HAUL:  Amy Griffin, PCSO for Burwell and Simon Rampley who is the PCSO for Cheveley with the stash of cans and bottles.

DRINK HAUL: Amy Griffin, PCSO for Burwell and Simon Rampley who is the PCSO for Cheveley with the stash of cans and bottles.

UNDERAGE drinkers are using more ingenious ways to conceal their alcohol, say police who took part in a recent seizure in Soham. Police and community support officers in Soham and Burwell reported alcohol being stashed away under road cones and in trees

UNDERAGE drinkers are using more ingenious ways to conceal their alcohol, say police who took part in a recent seizure in Soham.

Police and community support officers in Soham and Burwell reported alcohol being stashed away under road cones and in trees and bushes.

In one seizure, police confiscated 64 cans of beer and six bottles of vodka.

South Neighbourhood Beat sergeant Lindsay Harbour said: "PCSOs went to the recreation area in Soham and found alcohol everywhere. It was hanging in the trees in bags, hidden under bushes and under traffic cones.

"This problem was discovered by routine patrols. It was openly happening on the recreation areas and youngsters are travelling from Soham to Burwell and back again.

"Some of the alcohol was coming in huge crates. Some of it had been bought by the youngsters who appear older than they are and some had been bought by adults," said Sgt Harbour.

Local businessman Jonathan James said he instigated a Challenge 25 policy at Budgens in Soham two months ago, where anyone who says they are over 25 is asked to prove it.

"My staff have to press a button to confirm they have asked the person buying the alcohol if they are over 25, and then I can see on CCTV. But there are some irresponsible adults who will buy alcohol for children. I know I'm using a sledgehammer to crack a nut with Challenge 25 but retailers always get the blame. I can't control what people do with that alcohol once they have purchased it but I can make sure that we are a responsible retailer."

Burwell district counsellor Lavinia Edwards said the Co-op in Soham seemed to be a flashpoint.

"They employ young people at the weekend and in the evenings, maybe they are under pressure to sell alcohol to their peers," she said.

But a staff member at the Co-op on High Street said the organisation has a strict ID policy and if anyone looks under 21, they are asked for ID.

Mr James has been working closely with Cambridgeshire police on his Challenge 25 scheme as part of a clampdown on illegal alcohol sales.

"We have issued £80 penalty notices to offenders caught buying alcohol for youngsters and sent Guardian Awareness Programme letters to the youngsters' parents. They must take responsibility.

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