The inside story of how authorities tackled one of Boston’s biggest problems

The proportion of Boston 13- to 16-year-olds who say they drink alcohol every week has almost halved in the face of incredible efforts to combat underage drinking in the city.

According to the Boston Community Alcohol Partnership, the number of complaints about drunk and vocal teenagers in public, as well as alcohol-related waste, has decreased significantly since its inception in 2016.

And the percentage of licensees selling to underage people without looking for ID has dropped from 77.8 percent in 2017 to zero in 2020.

The CAP has just received a national award for its work with schools, colleges and on the streets to combat underage alcohol consumption.

What else can be done to combat underage drinking? Share your thoughts on this story in the comments here

During the lockdown, the CAP found some innovative ways to get the community across their messages about the risks of underage drinking.

This included distributing alcohol awareness videos to schools and youth centers, as well as placing conspicuous bollard covers around the city.

A police vehicle made frequent laps and used its large screen on the side of the vehicle to view news and video while the Road Hog Christian Outreach Bus patrolled hotspot areas.

The GAP works with local students and provides work experience to learners through the Boston College Uniformed Public Services course.

You will be invited to Challenge 25 and rejection tests in licensed premises and include them in resident and license surveys.

Inspector Fran Harrod

GAP coordinator Inspector Fran Harrod, who is in charge of Boston Neighborhood Police, said, “You learn, licensees learn, and the public sees young people invested in their own well-being and the well-being of the city.”

Insp Harrod said the CAP has some “big plans” to ease Covid-19 restrictions, including tackling drug trafficking with “County Lines,” where vulnerable young people are often exploited by criminal gangs.

She said, “We’d also like to get some aspiring personalities from the skate world to compete in a skills competition in our new skate park while also having fun spreading alcohol messages to young people.”

The CAP was named National CAP of the Year at an online event on March 31st to highlight the resilience and determination of local communities to tackle alcohol harm among young people.

Matt Warman, MP for Boston and Skegness, presented the award, saying, “The Boston CAP has done a really excellent job reducing alcohol abuse and street drinking among young people in the city.

“It’s another great example of how Boston’s organizations are working together – and with the community – to improve the health and wellbeing of young people.

“CAP brings together local retailers, police, trade standards, schools, youth groups and community organizations with support from the Boston Borough Council.

“I am delighted to present Inspector Francesca Harrod and Sergeant Kate Odlin with the CAP of the Year award, and I am delighted that the Boston CAP has both recognized them for their hard work in reducing alcohol abuse.”

More than 200 GAP programs have now been introduced across the country.

CAP Chairman Derek Lewis said: “Like many organizations, the CAP has been badly hit by Covid.

“Yet the partnership model’s ability to respond to changing circumstances and innovate has never been more clearly demonstrated.”

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