HC Deb 17 December 2001 vol 377 cc91-2W
Mr. Ben Chapman

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the trend in the incidence of youth disturbance involving the intake of alcohol in the last three years. [20984]

Mr. Denham

The information requested is not routinely collected by police forces or held centrally. Youth disturbance may vary from nuisance behaviour through to more serious disorder and criminal activity.

Tackling the problems associated with underage drinking is a key objective of the Home Office action plan on alcohol-related crime, disorder and nuisance. The most recent Youth Lifestyles Survey, published in October 2000, showed that 15 per cent. of young people aged 12 to 17 admitted to committing some form of antisocial behaviour during or after drinking—most often getting into a heated argument. Frequent drinkers were also more likely to have behaved antisocially.

We have strengthened the law, from 1 December, to go further in tackling the sale of alcohol to underage drinkers. Section 30 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 now places a positive duty on staff in licensed premises to check the age of young customers before selling alcohol, and section 31 provides a power for the police and local authorities to enforce the law by using under-18s to make test purchases. We expect these important new measures to assist in our determination to tackle under-age drinking as part of our wider programme to reduce youth crime and antisocial behaviour.