Anti-social behaviour in the Tranent area of East Lothian has hit an all time low.
Youth complaints in the Fa’side Ward, which covers the town of Tranent and the surrounding villages of Pencaitland, Macmerry, Ormiston and Elphinstone, have fallen by almost 80%.
In April 2011 the number of recorded youth complaints stood at 111, and by the end of the year this had been reduced to just 23.
The figures produced by East Lothian Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team evidence the dramatic drop in youth related anti-social behaviour calls in the area, which has been attributed to a sustained policing effort to tackle the culture of under-age drinking.
Inspector Helen Miller, from Lothian and Borders Police, said: “Since May 2011 my officers have been proactively dealing with children and young people who have been found in possession of alcohol or under the influence of alcohol, and investing time and effort in tracking down those adults who purchase alcohol on behalf of young people.
“Officers have reviewed every reported incident of youths being in possession of, or under the influence of alcohol. Follow-up visits to their homes or station-based interviews have identified a number of adults who have taken money from the youths and purchased alcohol on their behalf, otherwise known as a ‘proxy purchase’.
“In nearly every police investigation an adult has been traced, arrested and reported to the Procurator Fiscal.”
PC Scott Robertson, local Community Beat Officer, said: “If it takes four weeks or four months to find an adult buying alcohol for under-age youths, we will. Cutting off the supply of alcohol to youngsters in Tranent is crucial in making the town and the surrounding villages safer and better places for people to live.”
The zero-tolerance stance taken by police has not only impacted on youth calls, but over the same period (April to December) the overall number of anti-social behaviour calls was down by 51%, with all recorded crime down by 18%.
Figures released for January 2012 show recorded crime down by 47% (29 crimes).
In addition to the enforcement activity undertaken by local officers, local diversionary activity has also been credited as having a positive impact on the local community.
In particular, the Recharge project – a community led-initiative that focuses on providing young people with a safe place to go at nights – has seen a steady increase in its membership.
Centre manager Alan Bell said: “The Recharge drop-in nights have seen numbers increase steadily in the last year compared to previous years, and the positive relationship that we have developed with local police officers has been a key factor in this success.”
Following the success of the Tranent initiative, a similar approach to dealing with youth related anti-social behaviour will now be adopted by police in towns and villages across East Lothian.
Inspector Miller said: “Anti-social behaviour has a huge impact on communities, and Lothian and Borders Police is determined to improve the quality of life for people in East Lothian by tackling its root causes.
“We have seen remarkable results as a result of the action that we have undertaken in Tranent to address the issue of under-age drinking, and we will continue to pursue this strategy for the benefit of all of the communities in East Lothian.”