Young drinkers using Facebook to arrange drinking sessions
1:50pm Thursday 27th September 2012 in News
GIRLS as young as 12 are using Facebook to arrange late night drinking sessions in Bolton parks.
Now police have launched a crackdown after they received reports of dozens of children causing a nuisance in Willows Park and Leverhulme Park.
And they have issued a message to parents to make sure they know where their children are.
They are warning that youngsters could become victims of serious crime if they are wandering around town at night It is thought that some children, who travel from across the borough to gather in the parks, are telling parents they are staying at friends’ houses before going out drinking.
Police have launched Operation Lagerfeld to combat the problem, which involves patrolling hotspots and taking misbehaving youngsters home to their parents.
Sgt Dave Tann, from Bolton Central Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We are showing zero tolerance because these girls should not be drinking in the streets in the early hours of the morning.
“They are vulnerable and could become the victim of a serious crime.
“The message to parents is — do you really know where your children are and what they are doing?
“We don’t want to arrest the kids, but we want to make sure they are safe.”
Most of the complaints relate to youngsters aged 12 to 15, and it is thought that the majority are girls.
They congregate in large groups and bring alcohol with them.
Police said catching them to take the alcohol off them was like “a game of cat and mouse”.
This weekend about 25 youngsters gathered in Willows Park, Deane, on Friday night and about 20 on Saturday night.
Insp Wayne Readfern, who is in charge of Bolton East Neighbourhood Policing Team, said that three weeks ago there were more than 100 young people in Leverhulme Park, but that the number has dropped more recently.
He said: “They are coming from all over Bolton to gather here. Sometimes it’s hard to know how many people will turn up.”
Police are dealing with the problem by working with Bolton Council and sending letters to youngsters’ parents.
If they continue to cause trouble, more letters are sent, and in some cases youths are given “acceptable behaviour contracts” or anti-social behaviour orders.
Contracts are not legally binding, but are witnessed by the police, council and parents and can be used as evidence in court for further action, such as seeking an ASBO.
ASBOs can be used, for example, to ban youngsters from entering a particular place or associating with named people, and it is a criminal offence to breach the order.
Cllr Lynda Byrne, who represents Breightmet , said: “There has been a lot of vandalism of the children’s play equipment at Leverhulme Park recently.
“If this is down to the same group of people, who have been meeting up, then we really do need to clamp down on it and stop it happening.
“After all the cuts we haven’t got the funds to replace the equipment. We want it nice for the children and don’t want it spoilt.
“I went to Leverhulme Park with my grandchildren and I have noticed some older children and thought they looked a bit old to be there.”