Leader: ‘Extra support for local shops is welcome’

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TACKLING the scourge of under-age drinking remains one of the biggest challenges facing many communities in Edinburgh and across the country.

As we know, the actions of a few can have a significant and detrimental impact on the quality of life of many.

We have heard stories of older people left too scared to leave their homes, shopkeepers intimidated and abused by booze-fuelled youths, and mindless vandalism scarring neighbourhoods.

Today, we have news of a new joined-up approach to tackling the problem.

Involving the police, council and, crucially, local retailers, the Community Alcohol Partnership being trialled in Portobello and Piershill will be watched with interest across Scotland.

Stopping teenagers getting their hands on alcohol is key and news of extra support for local retailers is welcome.

The targeting of adults buying alcohol for children is one particular issue which can be impossible for your average cornershop to tackle.

The “neighbourhood watch” scheme intended to stop someone refused alcohol simply moving on to the next shop is an interesting idea and if supported might well have a real impact.

But that is only part of the problem.

Reducing the availability of alcohol to youngsters is certainly a good idea but it needs to go hand-in-hand with education for both youngsters and parents to ultimately bring about a societal change.

That will take some time.

Scotland’s love affair with the demon drink will continue while it is available on every street corner and filling the aisles of supermarkets. It would be naive to think a teenager who is determined enough will not still be able to get their hands on a bottle.

What today’s project is, however, is a start and a step in the right direction.