Shetland among worst areas for underage drinking

Shetland’s high levels of underage drinking are among the worst in Scotland, according to a recent review.

The Community Alcohol Partnership review identified Shetland among 10 council areas where there was evidence of high levels of underage drinking

Police said the findings presented a “challenge” for officers and partner agencies to tackle in the coming months.

Officers aim to tackle the problem through a “proxy purchase campaign”, which is being rolled out throughout the entire division.

Sgt Sarah Paterson told today’s licensing board that the campaign had do far failed to detect any offences in Shetland.

“That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, just that it’s not been detected by police,” she said.

A police report to the board said there was “little intelligence” to suggest underage sales were taking place within Shetland’s licensed premises.

“However, there is no room for complacency in this respect,” it added.

“Given the recent findings of the Community Alcohol Partnership it cannot be assumed that children and young persons are not obtaining and consuming alcohol

“Proxy alcohol purchasing is a rising trend and increases the availabiltiy and ease through which children and young persons can obtain alcohol.”

Police said the campaign sent a “very clear message” that buying alcohol for children was not acceptable “under any circumstances”.

Lerwick North and Bressay member Stephen Leask asked what the penalty was for adults buying alcohol for children.

Sgt Paterson said people caught buying alcohol for someone under age could face a level five fine – which is up to £5,000 – or three months in prison.

Mr Leask said that seemed a good deterrent.

“The low incidence suggests people are getting the message,” he added.

In September the council’s education and families committee was presented figures showing levels of drinking, drug-taking and smoking were all above the national average for high school pupils in Shetland.


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