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‘Back off parents’
A HAMPSHIRE charity today ordered the Government to back off parents in their fight against the country's teenage boozers.
They say ministers should ditch controversial plans to prosecute parents that could see them fined or even imprisoned if their kids are caught getting drunk.
It follows news that a group of Hampshire parents could be prosecuted by police after they gave alcohol to under-age children organising a party.
As reported in the Daily Echo, police were called to Calshot last week after hundreds of teen-agers were dropped off by their parents and handed boxes of lager.
But Suzie Hayman of Parent-line said the Government's new proposals were a step too far.
Unfair She said: "It's unfair and unjust to lock up parents as a punishment. Parents need help and support beforehand not afterwards when it's too late. We have thousands of parents ringing us up for help and advice regarding their children drinking and they just don't know what to do. The idea seems to be wait until the situation gets really bad and then punish people."
Under the new measures anyone looking under 21 will have to prove their age before buying alcohol. Vendors will also have their licence revoked if caught more than once selling booze to under-age drinkers.
Alison Ward, a centre manager for Southampton based drink and drugs counselling charity No Limits, said youngsters will still be able to buy alcohol.
She said: "I don't know if these new measures will help as young people who want to find alcohol with find it. Often an older person will buy it.
"The problem is people aged 13 and 14 don't see alcohol as something they should be worried about. So it's the job of schools, parents and organisations like ourselves to educate them of the dangers."
Alison said 460 children aged 11 to 18 from across Southampton approached No Limits last year with the majority asking for help with alcohol problems.
She added: "There's nothing particularly new in these measures but checking the age of people who look under 21 should make it easier for smaller shops to spot those who are under-age."
In October 2006 the Daily Echo launched a Keep Kids Sober campaign to encourage adults and parents - as the main source of alcohol for younger children - to take a more active and responsible role in teaching children about the consequences of alcohol and to think before supplying minors with drink.
The Daily Echo has also revealed how the city was the third worst in the country for alcohol-related violence and that drink was responsible for seven out of ten people being taken to Southampton General Hospital's casualty department on Friday and Saturday nights.
Inspector Martin Laux, of Hampshire police, said: "We welcome initiatives to tackle excess drinking, because excess drinking takes up a disproportionate amount of police resources that could be used elsewhere.
"However, we are acutely aware that appropriate responsibility must also be taken by individuals, parents, the drinks industry and retailers."