A CRACKDOWN on underage drinkers in Darlington parks resulted in dozens of bottles of alcohol being seized and four youths taken in by police.

The Staysafe Operation involved the police, Darlington Borough Council staff and addiction support service NECA working together to stop youths drinking alcohol and causing a nuisance in South Park and Green Park.

It was part of a targeted operation aimed at preventing teenage anti-social behaviour and drunkenness on key dates such as end of school terms and the start and finish of exam periods – such as GCSEs in this case.

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Dozens of bottles of beer, cider and cans of lager were seized from the youths, four of whom were so drunk they had to be taken in by the police to sober up while their parents were called.

Insp Mick Button, head of Darlington Neighbourhood Policing Team, said the operation was a success and that its main aim was to keep the teenagers safe.

He said: “They are putting themselves at risk.

“If they are underage drinking they are going to make themselves vulnerable by not being able to control their actions and are putting themselves more at risk of sexual predators.

“And of course their own actions change; it is alcohol in, brain out, so they will do things and say things and carry out actions that are risky to their safety, not to mention the anti-social behaviour element that affects the public.”

Insp Button said that a worrying occurrence was that in some cases parents supply the teenagers with alcohol.

He added: “It is not in all cases, but we do get times when it is supplied by parents, but when they do that they are contributing to the risk of their children; that is the message we want to get across.”

Cllr Cyndi Hughes, cabinet member for young people, welcomed the crackdown.

She said: “Lots of residents have told us about young people not just drinking but also egg throwing and stone throwing in both parks.

“Obviously I welcome this police initiative and I am really pleased that they are taking action fairly quickly because we have worked long and hard to try and get the community to be tolerant of young people hanging out in the parks, because young people need a place to go.”