AN ALCOHOL exclusion zone covering the whole of Maltby could prove “another tool in the armoury” in tackling under-age drinkers, police said this week.
Proposals to introduce the restriction follow a successful six-month operation around Muglet Lane after the area was identified through the Partners And Communities Together public meetings as one needing attention.
The parents of under-18s caught with booze in a zone where it is banned could end up in court under new legislation brought in last year.
Sgt Sue Snowden said: “We are having analysis work conducted to look at an alcohol exclusion zone in response to national NHS statistics which show Maltby to be disproportionately high for young people drinking.
“We can’t take alcohol from anyone who is 18 and above and can legally be in possession.
“So often we come along and a group will pass all the alcohol to those over 18, and then it all gets divvied up to the young people afterwards.
“Under the exclusion zone, we would be allowed to confiscate alcohol from anyone where anti-social behaviour might take place.
“It has to be linked with anti-social behaviour, which means people out for a picnic with a glass of wine would still be perfectly okay.”
There were reports of racist incidents towards shopkeepers, under-age drinking and criminal damage along Muglet Lane and Coronation Park at the end of 2009.
It was added to the list of priorities in December and only taken off in June once the public were satisfied that the extra police attention had worked.
Weekend patrols saw the SNT officers joined by Rotherham’s children’s services and drink and drugs awareness group Know The Score.
“It went on out priority list before Christmas, as a reflection of the information we had locally about disorder and what people said at the meeting,” said Sgt Snowden.
“The operation there was not just centred on police enforcement.
“There have been concerns that working with our partners might threaten confidentiality, but it actually helps us to break down barriers when we can talk to young people and introduce members of Know The Score who can help them.”
After 17 year old Thomas Playforth was knocked down and killed by a lorry on Muglet Lane in February, the area remained a priority for police.
Sgt Snowden said: “We felt that it was best to maintain it as a PACT priority and give the extra time and attention to young people who might be there mourning.
“We wanted to make sure that their needs had been met in light of the extenuating and tragic circumstances of this young man losing his life.”
Mobile CCTV was also utilised through the Wentworth Valley Area Assembly, and by summer the number of incidents had fallen.
Funding and permission is still required for an exclusion zone, but police are hopeful that another piece of legislation will help in the battle against underage drinking.
The Policing and Crime Act 2009 allows police to introduce a three-step process where under-18s are caught with alcohol.
Those persistently flouting the restrictions can face anti-social behaviour orders, while their parents can be prosecuted and fined up to £500.
The next Wentworth Valley PACT meeting takes place within the Area Assembly meeting at Maltby’s Full Life Church on July 20 at 6pm.