Newquay pins hope on alcohol rules for exam teenagers

Image caption Police will confiscate alcohol from under-age revellers

New rules introduced in the Cornish resort of Newquay after the deaths of two teenagers in 2009 face their first real test.

Over the next few weeks thousands of teenagers are expected to make their annual pilgrimage to Newquay, intending to celebrate after exams.

For Tracy Earnshaw, who lives a stone's thrown from pubs and bars in the town, their fun has been her nightmare.

"It's quite demoralising knowing we are going to get night after night of broken sleep.

"We will get wing mirrors ripped off cars, cars will get keyed, they will run over the bonnets and roofs of cars."

Door kicked in

She said years of rowdiness had been "destroying" for and her family.

"It's petty crime, but it just goes on and on.

"I've had my front door kicked in, a brick thrown through my window and I've been flashed at.

"You do wonder what it'll be next."

Image caption Paddy Higgins had gone to Newquay with friends after exams

Newquay has been known as a party venue for years, with about 30 bars and clubs in the town centre.

But the deaths of teenagers Paddy Higgins and Andrew Curwell in the space of nine days last summer led to some sober thinking.

Both had fallen from cliffs after going to Newquay to celebrate the end of exams.

Paddy had reportedly been served sambuca liqueur in a restaurant before his death.

But how to curb the antics of thousands of teenagers hell-bent on having a good time?

After a demonstration by local people calling for change, police, the local authority, pub and club owners and campsites came up with Newquay Safe.

Youth workers at campsites are on hand to offer advice to teenagers who are transported to and from the town by a special bus service so they can attend venues which offer alcohol-free events.

Licensed premises have also agreed not to sell alcohol to anyone who looks under 18 without a passport or driving licence.

Police will be welcoming teenagers arriving in the town with sniffer-dog searches and any alcohol found on under-age people will be confiscated.

Councillors from the area have also been talking to pupils at schools around the country, urging them to "be responsible and be safe".

But Guy Thomas, Newquay town centre manager, said parents should not be expect the authorities to be chaperones.

"I had an email from a parent last week who had heard on the grapevine that if they sent their 15-year-old daughter to Newquay we would provide an independent policeman for the duration of their visit.

"Clearly that is not something we are going to be doing."

Image caption Anyone caught drinking alcohol in public faces arrest

And he said the changes were no guarantee against another death.

"We will never be able to legislate for personal choice or for people who decide to go off and do something completely stupid.

"We can only handle that as it happens, but there are much more stringent measures in place this year.

"Ultimately, the strength we have is we're all working together."

In a test of the new measures nearly four weeks ago, two 15-year-old Bristol girls were sent home from Newquay after being found drunk and unaccompanied.

The town is still relatively quiet at the moment, so the real test will come at the height of the holiday season when the town's population of 20,000 swells to 120,000.

Paddy Higgins's father, John, said: "We will only know if they've worked after the season and the years after.

"We have just got to hope they are going to be enough.

"I would not want to stop these young people enjoying themselves. You can't wrap them up in cotton wool.

"I just want to make sure that the people selling alcohol are playing their part."

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