Airedale students lead the way in a new project tackling under-age drinking

Students from Airedale Academy have taken part in a new community initiative to raise awareness about the dangers of “proxy sales”, in which adults buy alcohol for under-18s.

On Friday 23rd February, students from Airedale were joined by teachers, local police and community traders as they donned high-visibility jackets and approached adults in the Magnet square, asking them to purchase alcohol for them. Police officers then stepped in to explain to members of the public that to buy alcohol on behalf of under-18s would be an offence.

This creates an opportunity for the students to raise awareness of the harms caused by “proxy sales” of alcohol and the harmful impact of underage drinking on young people, including its consequences for their health and its influence on antisocial behaviour in the community.

Andy Simms, Community Alcohol Practitioner for Spectrum CIC, said “As partners, we try many different ways to reinforce our messages around alcohol harms – to see young people taking the initiative is incredible. We know that many underage drinkers get access to alcohol through adults, and this is not only illegal but can put young people into dangerous situations.”

The initiative is part of the local Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) in Castleford and Airedale, which is a partnership involving members of local authorities, police, schools, retailers, neighbourhood groups and health providers. The partnership aims to reduce the sale of alcohol to young people whilst advising them on the dangers of drinking alcohol.

CAPs across the UK have enjoyed considerable success tackling underage drinking with a mix of education, enforcement, community engagement and the provision of diversionary activities for young people.

CAP Director Kate Winstanley said: “Drinking alcohol brings serious risks to children, putting them in danger of physical and social harm. They are far more likely to injure themselves or someone else, fail to reach their potential at school and engage in anti-social behaviour.

“While great progress has been made in reducing direct sales to under-18s via the Challenge 25 scheme, unfortunately youngsters sometimes obtain alcohol when adults buy it on their behalf, known as proxy purchasing.

“CAP is working hard to raise awareness of this issue by warning adults that proxy purchasing is an offence and will not be tolerated.”