Town's heavy underage drinking problem exposed by police online

Police in Coalisland have posted a photograph online of a shocking haul of empty alcohol bottles after they disrupted a group of underage children drinking in the town.

The PSNI’s Neighbourhood Policing Team shared the photograph on their Facebook account after seizing four vodka bottles and two of Buckfast.

The quantity of spirits consumed by the children prompted health fears and a warning from police.

They appealed to parents to be aware of the problem of underage drinking in the east Tyrone town, warning: “Please know where your children are and what they are up to. The quantity of spirits in this instance could have led to serious safety concerns for the children involved.”

SDLP Councillor Malachy Quinn has also raised concerns over crowds of underage drinkers gathering in the town.

“I’d like to congratulate the PSNI on taking action over under-age drinking in Coalisland,” he said.

“As we know its something that goes on nationwide but over the last couple of weeks and months I have had a steady rise in complaints about under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour associated with it from local traders and residents.

“I have talked to the PSNI in recent weeks to stress this type of activity and especially with Halloween coming up I’m glad to see they are actively taking action.”

Sinn Fein MLA for Mid Ulster Linda Dillon also warned of the health risks particularly in relation to mental health.

“I would appeal to parents to know where their children are,” she said. “We need to ensure that there is a two way flow of respect that young people are given respect but also that they show respect to others but also for themselves.

“I want to see all of the young people in our town achieving in life and this is not a good start. We know that there is a high rate of suicide in our area and alcohol abuse plays it’s part so this needs to be tackled.”

Under the Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Act 1997, police have powers to confiscate alcohol from persons under 18 in public: refusal to hand it over can attract a fine of up to £500.