by Andrew Stewart
A youth worker will now be present in Livingston St. John’s A&E on Saturday nights from now on in order to provide counseling the increased number of youngsters brought in intoxicated.
This action is in direct response to two recent incidences where primary school children aged 10 and 11 had been picked up by police after being caught drinking in the street. It is also a part of operation floor-sweep.
Operation floor-sweep, launched in February 2007, is an initiative which deals with youth and alcohol related anti-social behaviour and since it was put into action has been credited with 185 under 16s being picked up and a drop 38 % in calls to Lothian police with regards to disruptive behaviour by drunken youths.
Chief inspector Jim Baird of Lothian and borders police said of the operation, ‘The Operation set out to achieve a behavioural change in the children rather than a quick short-term fix. It also aimed to make parents take responsibility for their child’s behaviour and to hold those irresponsible enough to supply alcohol to underage children, accountable for their actions and to be punished accordingly.
The drunken youths brought in are referred to WLDAS (West Lothian Drug & Alcohol Services) councillors.
Heather Watson, deputy manager with WLDAS commented that the help-lines ‘regularly talk to kids between the ages of 13 and 14 and even younger’ and that ‘Alcohol dependency (in children) can be the result of poor home-lives or being bullied at school’. When asked whether it was more boys or girls drinking at younger ages Watson replied, ‘We tend to get slightly more boys but there isn’t a noticeable difference ‘.