POLICE patrols are to be stepped up on Sunderland’s seafront after complaints about underage drinkers.
Residents living in Seaburn, Roker and Fulwell have raised concerns about the numbers of young people drinking and causing trouble on the coast.
Similar complaints have also been reported in the grounds of Sunderland North Community Sports complex and in Downhill.
In a bid to tackle the trouble, Sunderland North neighbourhood officers have increased patrols in hotspot areas at key times.
They have also joined forces with Sunderland City Council’s antisocial behaviour teams to target those responsible.
Police chiefs said officers will talk to youngsters about the effects of their behaviour on others first.
If this fails, they have pledged to take tough action against those caught.
Inspector Tony Carty said: “This operation is aimed at talking to young people about their behaviour to educate them about how their actions may be viewed by other people.
“By speaking to young people and discussing their behaviour with them we aim to prevent further complaints by residents.
“If the initial educational aspect does not work, then enforcement will follow.
“The seafront parks and other public areas are for everyone to enjoy and we don’t want antisocial behaviour caused by a few people to spoil these places for everyone.
“The vast majority of young people are well-behaved, just like the rest of the population.”
As part of the operation, which forms part of the forcewide Put Yourself in Their Shoes campaign, officers will also be visiting off-licences.
Insp Carty added: “We know that youth disorder is frequently fuelled by alcohol so we are also visiting off-licences to make sure staff are fully aware of their responsibilities not to sell drink to under-18s.
“Selling alcohol to those underage is a criminal offence and they could face a fine or even prosecution.”
Officers will be monitoring CCTV to flag up any cases where adults are buying booze for youngsters.
They face an £80 fine and prosecution.
Coun Cecilia Gofton, council portfolio holder for responsive services and customer care, said: “Antisocial behaviour is often highlighted as an area of concern by residents across Sunderland.
“The council’s antisocial behaviour teams work in great partnership with the police and other partner organisations to tackle the problem and we are delighted to support this latest Northumbria Police initiative in the North area.”
Anyone with any concerns about crime or antisocial behaviour where they live can contact police on 101 ex 69191.