THIS BOOZE WAS MEANT FOR KIDS
By JANE GARDNER
POLICE at Byron Bay have charged nine adults with supplying alcohol to children.
The arrests were made during a special police operation at the weekend.
Senior Constable Steve Chapman, Byron Bay's licensing officer, said the problem of underage drinking on the streets was growing worse and anyone supplying liquor to kids should be aware they could face jail time.
"Some of the people we caught were the 18 year friends of the underage drinkers, but the rest were what teenagers call 'randoms'," he said.
"They are usually backpackers who are naive about the law and not aware of the penalties."
Police believe the kids are targeting backpackers as easy and gullible marks.
"They will ask until they find someone to buy it for them." Police believe the state-wide epidemic of underage drinking in country areas has worsened in recent years.
They say the kids are getting younger, more brazen, congregating in larger numbers and drinking heavier spirits.
"In days gone by kids did their best not to come under the attention of police. But we are surprised at how blatant the drinking is now," Sen Const Chapman said.
"A few years ago, the girls would drink Passion Pop and the boys would drink beer, but now they seem to be drinking bourbon and bottles of hard spirits.
"Not only do we have the problem where when they're intoxicated they are more likely to commit crimes, what is more worrying is that they are much more likely to become victims of sexual assault.
"Ambulance officers are picking these kids up and we're hearing from them that it's not uncommon for some kids to require medical attention after drinking sessions on Friday and Saturday nights."