We must change our drinking ways

Measures were unveiled this week to tackle youngsters who drink alcohol in public.

A key plank in the strategy is holding parents responsible for children who consume alcohol and where necessary, prosecuting them for their failures.

Professionals could be called in where parents are unable to handle their children and parenting courses would be compulsory for irresponsible parents.

We need measures like these to change the drinking culture in the same way that we altered football fans’ behaviour.

This is a moral issue and underlines where we stand as a nation, in terms of our values and responsibilities.

There is a clear link between the abuse of alcohol and anti-social behaviour by young people, which needs tough and urgent action.

Groups of youngsters drinking in public places are an all-too familiar sight and we need to role out more alcohol free zones. These have been effective in Deeside and should be adopted in all communities.

Of course, a great part of the problem rests with parents who have alcohol problems themselves. More than one million children live with parents who have alcohol problems and so therapy is vital for the whole family. This can be expensive, but it is available and families should feel no shame in seeking support.

Eliminating binge drinking and making the consumption of alcohol more socially responsible is a massive task, but one that I am confident we can deliver on.

We can establish the sort of respect for alcohol that our European cousins show, but only if we change our attitudes and responses to its consumption.