A police inspector sent out a strong message to the parents of Wick’s underage drinkers on Monday evening – “do you know what your teenage sons and daughters are up to?”.
Inspector Alasdair Goskirk, local community inspector for Caithness, highlighted the problems of teenage booze culture in the town and the steps taken by police to control it.
Speaking at an online meeting of the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council (RBWCC) he said: “We seized alcohol from a number of teenagers at the riverside at the time the shows [sideshows] were in place.
“In essence we are talking about low numbers but we were taking whisky, wine and beer from young people aged 15, 16 and 17. So young people in the community are out and about and have access to strong alcohol.”
RBWCC member Wendy Campbell stressed how underage drinking was not just a problem around the riverside area but also around the North Baths. The inspector said the main focus has been down the riverside. Police patrols have been observed operating in that area on various occasions last month when the sideshows operated.
“We have seized alcohol from teenagers down at the riverside – which is one of the problem areas – and I’m not saying we’re eradicating it but I’m going to say something now that never seems to go down very well.” He said he was returning to a statement he made at the first community council meeting he came to in Wick. “Parents, do you know where your teenagers are? Do you know what your teenage sons and daughters are up to?”
Community council chairperson, Joanna Coghill, thanked the inspector for highlighting the problem and said she understood his point. “It’s education at home. That’s where it starts from,” she said.
The community councillors, as well as the police representative, talked about the ban on consumption of alcohol in public areas of the town and stressed its importance in the light of the underage drinking issue.
The RBWCC had expressed its disappointment last month that no local police representatives had attended and Mrs Coghill requested an email be sent to Inspector Goskirk along with Sergeant Brian Hamilton to express its opinion on the issue and also bring up the matter of the “dangerous situation at Wick riverside”.
Last month, the community councillors discussed reports of teenagers throwing stones at members of the public and areas around the riverside that were left littered with alcohol bottles and broken glass.
Co-opted RBWCC member Allan Bruce asked the inspector what number should people use to contact the local police station as “it can take up to 40 minutes” to get through the whole process.
“The police station is not closed – there is still a service there,” said Inspector Goskirk. “There is a want in the community for people to come to the police station and the officers here juggle that well. Mobile devices have also allowed officers to be out on patrol in the community.”
The inspector also talked about policing around licensed premises in Wick and said that although recent reports were mainly positive there were one or two “very disappointing exceptions”.
“Sporting events from the last couple of weeks have led to licensed premises becoming more frequented and these are challenges to the licensee.”
The RBWCC chairperson and members thanked the inspector for attending the online meeting and engaging with them on local policing concerns.