AS THE school holiday approaches, police in Montrose are stepping up their efforts to curb under-age drinking in and around the town.
Operation Dry Up, the continuing campaign to tackle the problem, is enforced year-round and officers anticipate an increase in activity due to a combination of longer days and school holidays.
A quantity of alcohol was seized from youngsters during the recent Mo Fest during Operation Total Dry Up, a joint approach by local officers, Eastern Division’s community impact team from Forfar and Tayside Council on Alcohol (TCA).
The campaign aims to reduce the risk to vulnerable teenagers involved in under-age drinking as well as tackle the knock-on effect to the wider community.
Incidents of vandalism, disorderly behaviour, crimes of violence and even serious crime can often follow as a result of the misuse of alcohol by young people.
Community officer Ally Hutchison said there is also an element of youngsters drinking at home.
He said: “The alcohol was mostly seized from youngsters between 15 and 17-years-old. Some were a couple of weeks into their exam leave so were in quite high spirits.
“But the problem appears to be that alcohol is also being drunk in houses - they take mum and dad’s drink and head round to their friends’ homes. Because it was the weekend of the music festival and the weather was glorious, that seems to have brought them up.
“We’re expecting more activity during the summer months but Operation Dry Up is constantly ongoing and there will also be a concentrated Operation Total Dry Up in the area again in August.”
Alcohol will be confiscated from any youngster caught in possession of it and, if under the influence of alcohol at the time, they will be taken home by officers. If not, their names and addresses will be taken and their parents contacted by letter.
In the past youth workers from Montrose YM have undertaken successful street work in the town, checking up on known “drinking dens” to issue youngsters with advice, ensure they were safe and offer diversionary activities to give them alternatives to drinking.
Manager Val Cooper said there is a possibility the scheme will run this summer. She also said the problem with youngsters drinking openly in the town appears to have decreased over the last few years.
She said: “It’s a different culture now and from what I hear the kids are on about going to each other’s houses and parties. I think some parents are telling them that if they’re going to drink they do it in the house under strict limits and under supervision.
“It’s a change of attitude by the kids but maybe it’s also a change in attitude of the parents.”