Safety patrol on Rowley and Old Hill

Schools joined forces with the local MP, council, police and community representatives for a safety and alcohol awareness patrol in Rowley and Old Hill.

Staff from Ormiston Forge Academy, James Morris, MP for Halesowen and Rowley Regis and St Michael’s Church of England High School joined the Friday night patrol, which had a focus on giving young people information on local services.

The patrol was led by Sandwell’s Community Alcohol Partnership, with police, alcohol peer mentors, council wardens and council anti-social behaviour, neighbourhoods and young people’s services staff among the many partners involved.

Lydia Dunne, from the Community Alcohol Partnership, said: “This was a really well-attended patrol in the Rowley and Old Hill areas.

We split into small teams to visit various areas, including Haden Hill Park and Britannia Park and the surrounding areas.

This builds on the weekly patrols alcohol peer mentors already do in the area.

No young people were seen to be drinking alcohol – in fact the vast majority were involved in positive activities, including football and skating at the skate park.

We were able to give young people some key information and advice around keeping safe and avoiding harm caused by alcohol and drugs.

It was a big success and we’ll be looking to do similar patrols in the future.

As part of the initiative, council trading standards officers carried out alcohol test purchases at shops in the area. One out of five shops visited sold alcohol to the underage volunteer and will now receive a final warning.

Bob Charnley, Sandwell Council’s trading standards manager, said: “The aim of test purchases is to deter retailers from selling to youngsters, to reduce anti-social behaviour and the problems associated with drinking and to protect young people from the potential dangers of alcohol.

I am delighted that the majority of retailers refused to sell to the young volunteer who was attempting to buy alcohol. The issue of underage sales in Sandwell is a high priority for us and our partners, as illegal sales of alcohol to youngsters are not acceptable.

Mr Charnley added: “The service gives advice and guidance to retailers on how to avoid making underage sales and takes legal action against those who are blatantly negligent or persistently break the law. This could result in a criminal prosecution, a suspension or revocation of an alcohol.

Andrew Burns, Principal at Ormiston Forge Academy, said: “It speaks volumes about the strength of our community when so many stakeholders come together on a cold Friday night to ensure our young people are safe and cared for. I’m very proud that Forge was able to be part of this group and we will continue to support such activities in and out of school time.

MP James Morris said: “I was pleased to join local children out on patrol demonstrating their commitment to reducing alcohol misuse in young people. This projects works with many different groups and agencies to work directly with our young people, and as a result we have seen a reduction in street drinking. Peer mentoring is a powerful tool in combating this problem, and the work that Ormiston Forge pupils are doing is very impressive.

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