Police seize 3,000 driving licences and passports from underage drinkers in Swansea
POLICE have seized around 3,000 passports and driving licences from underage drinkers in Swansea.
They are not fake IDs, but were mostly loaned to the youths by older relatives and friends.
But as the licences and passports are returned to the agency issuing them, their rightful owners then have to go through the hassle of applying to have them back.
The seizures, which took place pre- dominantly in The Kingsway and Wind Street over the last three years, are said to have significantly reduced the problem of under-18s drinking in the city.
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Doormen, bar staff and undercover police and trading standards officers have all been involved in the crackdown, which is now being rolled out into the Neath Port Talbot areas.
PC John Williams is the licensing officer responsible for Neath Port Talbot and the Swansea area outside the city centre.
"We have found that a lot of people who are not old enough to drink are using ID such as driving licences or passports belonging to older brothers, sisters or friends," said PC Williams.
"What we have been doing in Swansea is not just confiscating them and then returning them to their owners, but actually sending them back to the issuing agency, such as the DVLA or Passport Service.
"The person the ID was originally issued to then has to go to the trouble of applying to the relevant agency to have it returned, which acts as a deterrent in itself." Mr Williams said police invest- igated whether the ID had been borrowed or stolen.
They also ensured that under-18s trying to get hold of alcohol were not just told off, but went through the embarrass- ment of having their parents being called to collect them. PC Williams said the city scheme, originally introduced by Swansea's night-time economy officer Warren Williams, had been hugely successful.
"We have seized more than 3,000 since this scheme started around three years ago, which shows how prevalent this is," he said.
"We have had five examples so far this week alone. Most of them were confiscated in The Kingsway and Wind Street, which is where a large number of licensed premises are located.
"It is raising the standard of premises, and it has significantly reduced incidents of underage drinking."
Now the ID confiscation scheme is being extended into the Neath Port Talbot area.
Sector sergeant Tim Barrell said it would start in Neath and Port Talbot town centres and then eventually spread to Pontardawe.
"Underage drinking is something we will never completely eradicate because people will keep trying," he said.
"But we will continue to make it as difficult as possible for under-18s to drink alcohol in licensed premises.
"Hopefully people will not be so keen to lend driving licences or passports if they know there is a very good chance these will be confiscated and returned to the agency that issued them."