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Operation takes drunk youngsters off Harrogate streets

[Wednesday 20 February 2008]

CHILDREN as young as 12 years old were taken off the streets and returned to parents as part of a joint operation in Harrogate.

Operation Beacon took place last Friday (15 February) and was launched following concerns at the increasing incidences of children going to court for committing offences whilst drunk.

This has also been a wakeup call for parents

Sgt Geoff Crocker - North Yorkshire Police

Operation Beacon has been put together by the Harrogate and District Safer Communities Partnership to provide a safer environment for young people in the town centre, said Sgt Geoff Crocker of North Yorkshire Police. “Beacon is a return to the old traditional policing methods. It is unacceptable for under-18s to be in possession of alcohol in the street or to be drunk in a public place. And those that were found to be were removed from danger and calls made to their parents.

“This has also been a wakeup call for parents, many of whom had no idea that their children were out believing them to be at sleepovers with friends. Some of the children travelled from as far as Collingham, Ripon and Wetherby. But our biggest worry was a 12 year old who was found to be nearly twice over the legal limit for driving and that is a figure set for adults.”

In total 19 children aged between 12 and 16 were taken into the mobile police unit.

Councillor Les Ellington, Chairman of the Safer Communities Partnership and Cabinet Member for Public Protection for Harrogate Borough Council, is pleased with how the initiative has developed and with the results. He said: “This was a real partnership effort bringing in all the different agencies including the police, social services, trading standards, 4Youth, Town Pastors, St John Ambulance, NHS Yorkshire Ambulance, Harrogate District Hospital and our own public protection and licensing officers.”

Operation Beacon will be run for every under-18s do, whether they are at Mansion or at other venues. The organisers will be expected to pick up some of the costs as it is not for the public purse to fund private parties and their consequences.

The Safer Neighbourhood Team will continue to work in this way where children are intoxicated or found with alcohol, added Sgt Crocker. “They will be taken into our care until a responsible adult is found to collect them. If they continue to come to our notice the authorities will have to consider if the problem is with the child or the parent and take appropriate action.”

Councillor Ellington added that the Partnership will continue to support these under-18 events where there is good management and the licensing objectives around protecting children are met.

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