AN operation working to reduce underage drinking and antisocial behaviour has relaunched in a town.

Operation Aries has returned to Bishop Auckland and will see agencies such as the police, Durham County Council, schools, youth services and supermarkets work together.

Supported by the Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) the group will combine their resources and expertise to tackle the issues and raise awareness of health and risk issues connected to underage drinking.

Alan Simpson, CAP advisor, said: “A significant proportion of children have not only drunk alcohol before the age of 18 but are likely to have been drunk at least once in the last four weeks. This can be seriously damaging to their health and development and impact negatively on the wider community.

"For our part, CAP offers a great opportunity to make a real and lasting difference to our nation’s relationship with alcohol, starting with the current generation of young people.”

Newly appointed chair of the operation group, Councillor Joy Allen, added: “Operation Aries is an excellent example of how, when partners come together they can devise innovative, creative and engaging ways to encourage young people to reassess their alcohol consumption and to follow a healthier lifestyle.

“Our first meetings have been extremely productive and partners have already devised a comprehensive plan which includes a range of education, engagement and enforcement actions that will tackle underage drinking and reduce the vulnerability of those under the influence of alcohol."

Inspector Andy Reeves, from Bishop Auckland Police, urged members of the community to report their concerns.

He said “The consumption of alcohol can lead to antisocial behaviour, criminal damage, missing persons and concerns for safety that impact upon police resources.

"I would encourage the community to report any concerns around youths alcohol consumption to us by calling the police on 101."

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers 0800-555111.