UNDERAGE drinking in Blandford is to be tackled “head-on” in the lead-up to Halloween celebrations on Saturday.

Blandford people have pushed the issue to the top of the policing agenda at meetings of the town’s Police and Communities Together (Pact) panel, which includes police, councillors and housing agencies.

PCSO Ryan Murray, the safe schools and communities officer for Blandford, said: “We are tackling this issue head on as it has been highlighted as a Pact priority. Halloween and half-term can be quite a stressful time of year for residents, especially for the elderly, as typically, more young people are out on the streets at night.”

Officers were hoping to repeat the success of last year’s crackdown, he added, where patrols targeted at known troublemakers meant Halloween passed without a single report of anti-social behaviour.

Stour Meadows and Milldown Recreation Ground have been highlighted this year as hotspot areas for illegal drinking by young people.

A three-pronged attack of police action, education programmes in schools, and workshops for parents has been unveiled in a bid to cut the numbers of drunken teens.

Beat officers have already visited The Blandford School to drive home warnings to pupils as young as 14 on the health and legal risks of underage drinking.

Patrols will be stepped up in the next few weeks.

Special constables have been told to seize alcohol from underage drinkers at areas popular with young people.

Adults buying booze for children and licensees selling alcohol to the underaged will also be targeted in the crackdown.

Parents will be told to collect drunken children and offered a place at a workshop to be held at the end of November.

Police have teamed up with the Shire Alcohol and Drug Outreach Service and North Dorset District Council to produce safety packs for parents. Call 01258 488486 for more information.

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