FRLT To Create Local Task Force

26 September 2008


A special task team has been created to tackle the issue of anti-social and underage drinking in Larne involving local publicans, off licences, the PSNI and Larne Borough Council. This was the outcome of a special meeting held at the Council [Tuesday 14 October] organised by the Federation of the Retail Licensed Trade and the PSNI. Announcing this move, Colin Neill, Chief Executive of the Federation of the Retail Licensed Trade said: �The time has come to say enough is enough and we need to take action. The issue of underage and anti-social drinking is one that blights our society and has serious health, economic and social implications. Speaking also as a parent and a local resident I feel that this is the first step to tackling this problem once and for all. I am delighted with the response we have had this evening and the commitment we have received from the local publicans and off licence traders, along with the PSNI and local representatives at a Council and community level. I believe that working together in targeting young people in the area with the assistance of the local community and the schools and colleges we can make a difference. Publicans and off-sales across the area who are members of the Federation of the Retail Licensed Trade have signed up to a strict code of practice which prohibits the sale of alcohol to those perceived to be underage or unfit to consume it. In addition they operate the Challenge 21 initiative whereby those who may be over 18 but look under 21 will be required to produce recognised forms of identification such as a driving licence, passport or an electoral identity card for example. If they cannot do this they will not be sold alcohol. We have put a great deal of effort and resources to date into training for bar, door and off-licence staff to ensure they can properly identify minors and make sure they are not able to access alcohol� said Mr. Neill. The Federation has also set up a confidential phone-line to enable people to report any trader who has sold alcohol to minors. All reports will be investigated by the FRLT and anyone found to be supplying alcohol to minors will be met with a zero tolerance approach by the FRLT. Showing his support for the creation of this team, East Antrim DUP MLA Alastair Ross said: �This is not just a problem for the police, licensees and politicians, it is an issue which affects society as a whole and many people have a role to play, most crucially being the parents. We would appeal to them to do all they can to ensure their child does not seek to obtain alcohol. We need to ensure that alcohol becomes less accessible to young people and there is adequate enforcement in place to deal with this issue.� I would urge parents, youth groups, community associations, schools and others to take a more active role in society and do their utmost to ensure that youths� under the age of 18yrs are not obtaining alcohol. I welcome the establishment of this group and offer the membership my full support in tackling this issue for the betterment of the people of Larne and beyond� said Mr. Ross. Backing the establishment of the Task Team, Inspector Noel Rogan, Sector Manager of the Larne PSNI said: �This is a time for action, words are no longer enough. By creating this task force we are demonstrating that society has had enough of the anti-social behaviour and we are coming together to take the message to the small minority of young people and rogue traders engaging in this sort of activity that this will no longer be tolerated. We will be bringing the message to the schools and the street corners that underage and binge drinking can cause untold health, financial and social problems that may not only affect you now but also in later years. It should also be noted that there are a wide range of ways in which minors get alcohol with many getting adults to purchase it for them. Adults caught doing this will be prosecuted and face a fine of up to �5000 and potentially up to 6 months in prison� said Inspector Rogan. Anyone who suspects that a licensee is contravening the Code of Practice should contact the Federation on (028) 9032 7578. All calls will be treated in the strictest of confidence.