Underage drinking and fights near funfair
PUBLISHED: 13:45 14 June 2019
Fights and underage drinking near the funfair at The Ham forced officers into action at the weekend raising concerns about young people's access to alcohol.
Sergeant Andy Squires and members of the neighbourhood police team broke up three assaults, were sworn at and looked after a number of 'very drunk' teenagers on Saturday night. He said many parents were 'duly horrified' when contacted about their child's condition after they were taken home.
At a meeting of Sidmouth Town Council on Monday, he praised the fair for how it was run and its security, but said there is a balance to be maintained.
He said: "Although there were four of us on, while we're trying to look after some very drunk 14, 15 and 16 year olds, we have got others literally waving one finger at us, shouting swear words and have a bottle of vodka in the other hand. We'd very much like to chase after them and give them a bit of advice. But we can't drop somebody who is in a comatose state and deal with them all - but that is something that we have to deal with. Where they get their alcohol from is always an annual conundrum. Some bring it from home, we have got fairly tight reign over licensed premises in town don't sell it youngsters, but whether there are older ones that are buying it then distributing outside it's a thing that's difficult to keep a lid on.
"There's a fine balance between the amount of family fun the fair provides versus the amount of disorder and disrespect that we have to try and endure and protect the time from. I appreciated its (the fair's) benefit is laid on for the town and I wouldn't want to be Scrooge and say stop it all together."
Cllr Ian Barlow, chairman of the town council, suggested the council contribute financially towards security or an ambulance to help drunken visitors.
Following the meeting, fair organiser David Rowland said: "We love coming to Sidmouth, we do better and better every year. I spoke to a couple of them (young people) and asked them 'what do they hope to achieve?'. And they said they were coming down because it's the fair or they would be in the park or somewhere else. I know the fair can attract certain people but they do mess around in other places to, its not just on one event in the year."