Council takes action to tackle under-age drinking on Moreton Hall

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A council has hired youth workers to help tackle the problem of under-age drinking on Moreton Hall.

Police say groups as large as 50, generally aged from 13-17, have been found boozing on the estate.

The issue has remained a priority for the local police team for nine months, with extra officers brought in to create a larger police presence.

Pc Mo Arondel said: “The additional officers are special constables and for the last few weeks the Safer Neighbourhood Team officers have remained on the estate at the weekend, instead of being redeployed after 10pm to deal with public order in the town.”

To assist police, St Edmundsbury Borough Council has bought the time of three youth workers from ITSUM–YP, a social enterprise that delivers its rural outreach Wos Up programme.

Simon Pickering, youth and community development officer for St Edmundsbury, said: “We need positive engagement instead of police enforcement.”

On Fridays, from 10pm to midnight, the youth workers visit areas of Moreton Hall identified by local councillors and police as hot-spots for nuisance behaviour.

They offer information, advice and guidance while also engaging with the young people through activities like ‘having a kick-about’ with a football.

Project manager Zena Fenton said they had had to build relationships where a high police presence had caused tension but, now in the fourth week of the six week project, were engaging with up to 60 youngsters each night.

She said: “It’s been really successful. Where before we had pockets of young people gathering, they’re now coming into one area.”