A MAJOR police crackdown has seen booze and drug crime in the Cardonald area plummet over five years.
Local police are winning their battle against underage boozers and drug criminals with the number of public drinking offences among youngsters in Cardonald and Craigton a staggering 540% lower than in 2006 and possession and supply of drugs also falling year-on-year.
The figures, obtained exclusively by the Courier through a Freedom of Information request, revealed that a total of 233 cases of underage drinking in public took place in 2006 compared to just 43 in the last year – a staggering five-fold decrease.
This is due to police clamping down on underage-drinkers loitering in public, made clear through the jump in fixed penalty notices issued for public and underage drinking, a rise from just 24 in 2006 to 155 in the last year.
As well as police taking a harder line on youth drinkers there has also been a focus on joint initiatives in an effort to curb the problem.
A police spokesman said: “Strathclyde Police is committed to tackling violence, disorder and antisocial behaviour. Over the last five years we have worked hard in this area in order to bring the incidents of persons drinking in public down in Cardonald and Craigton.
“With the introduction of Fixed Penalty Notices for certain antisocial offences officers are able to target offenders in a much more effective and efficient manner. Officers have, in addition, worked with partner agencies in tackling both the offenders and the licensed premises within the local community. On a number of occasions initiatives have taken place including “test purchase” operations ensuring that off sales are challenged on their practices and are prevented from selling to under age persons.
“We will continue to work hard in this area and thank the community for their support with this work.”
Communities Inspector Stuart Mundell of Craigton Police added: “Over the past couple of months we have been working closely with local licensees, giving advice and guidance to staff on their legal responsibilities and the negative effect the sale of alcohol to young people has on the local community, and this has been well received.”
An increase in youth projects and joint police initiatives to encourage youths to stay off the streets and out of trouble at night is thought to be a major factor in the success seen so far.
Alistair Gray, 18, a local youth from Cardonald spoke of his troubled past, how he changed and how the youth throughout Cardonald and Craigton really are drinking less.
The softly spoken teenager said: “I really was a total wee idiot a few years back. I can’t really say I got involved in the wrong crowd because most 15-16-year-olds around here are pretty similar.
“All I did was go out and drink. I drank every weekend and even sometimes during the week on school nights. There was nothing better to do and the polis never did anything about it so we thought we could get away with it.”
So what is the secret behind the massive drop in crime figures?
He continued: “I think what changed things for me was when me and some of my mates started getting fined for drinking in the streets. It never used to happen then a few years ago suddenly the polis started handing them out left, right and centre.
“They got to know me and knew I was trouble so one of them told me to go to this Night Zone youth club thing at Govan High. So I gave it a go, and to be honest it really helped. I’ve seen it and other youth projects change guys like me. I’m not saying I don’t drink anymore but I don’t hang about the streets like a wee bam steaming drunk and causing trouble. I’ve learned there’s better stuff to do.”
The improvements are not just confined to drinking offences with drug possession and supply showing encouraging improvements as well.
In 2006 Strathclyde Police found 727 people in possession of drugs in the Cardonald area, 164 of these were also charged with drug dealing offences.
However in the last year this total has dropped by almost 100 to 639 cases and the number of reported cases of possession of drugs with intent to supply sank by well over half to 68.
The results collected by the police follow encouraging trends relating to the number of youths admitted to hospital in because of alcohol and drugs.
The figures obtained from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde bosses show 1339 children aged 15 or under were admitted to A&E for drug and alcohol abuse from 2008-2011.
But numbers are actually dropping dramatically, with such emergency admissions among under-16s falling by over a third since 2008. A total of 365 underage boozers in Glasgow were admitted to A&E in 2008 and that number fell to 242 in the last year.
Barbara O’Donnell, Alcohol Focus Scotland operations manager, said: “It is encouraging that the number of minors being admitted to A&E in Glasgow has reduced since 2008. And it is good to see local police, especially in the Cardonald area see similar improvements with regards to youth drinking.
“However, last year there were still 349 children admitted to A&E after taking either alcohol or drugs. Children and young people need clear messages about the dangers of drinking alcohol.
“Alcohol has never been more affordable, available or heavily marketed than it is now and this is having a huge impact on our children and young people. However, Cardonald and Craigton seem to be bucking the trend and have seen great improvements in this area.”