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Shock over crime rate of underage drinkers.

Byline: philip dewey Reporter philip.dewey@walesonline.co.uk

NEW figures have revealed that more than 1,200 alcohol-related crimes have been committed by children in Wales.

The statistics, released by each of Wales' four police forces, show that children as young as 10 have committed alcohol-fuelled violent crime, including rape, assault and criminal damage.

The figures show between 2014 and 2016, South Wales Police reported 250 incidents of crime committed by people aged 18 and under, Dyfed-Powys Police reported 182 incidents, North Wales Police reported 375 incidents, while Gwent Police reported 105 incidents in the last year alone. Prevalence of crimes committed by underage drinkers was highest in Carmarthenshire, with 137 arrests, followed closely by Wrexham, with 113 arrests, then Bridgend, with 106 arrests.

Among the crimes recorded were five offences of racially or religiously aggravated incidents in South Wales, 10 offences of drug possession in Dyfed-Powys and four arrests for drink driving in Gwent.

The figures were made public as a result of a Freedom of Information request by the Welsh Conservatives.

Angela Burns AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Secretary of Health, said: "It's clear from the data that alcohol is having a ruinous effect on many Welsh youngsters and the communities in which they live.

"As these crimes demonstrate, underage drinking is fuelling some heinous antisocial behaviour at a huge cost to the public purse and to the victims they affect.

"A criminal record also carries a cost; an offender's life prospects are likely to be significantly diminished, affecting employment opportunities and even car insurance premiums.

"Police forces and health services must work more closely with schools to develop an effective programme of education warning children against the dangers of substance misuse."

Mark Isherwood AM, Shadow Secretary for Social Justice, said: "The cost to society of alcohol abuse is incalculable and is often a contributory factor in poor health, unwanted pregnancy and, as these figures show, youth crime.

"The deep-rooted causes of underage drinking must be tackled through interventions that are targeted at children and young people most vulnerable to this kind of behaviour - before they take a collision course with the law."

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Alcohol is having a 'ruinous effect' on many young people and communities, says Tory AM Angela Burns

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 25, 2016
Words:374
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