Minister praises Fife ‘Bottlewatch’ scheme

2911011 SSHC kenny macaskill 'L - R: Fahim Ashiq (store owner), Kenny MacAskill (Justice Secretary), Sgt Callum Winton - discussing alcohol abuse and how local shopkeepers tackle the problem - at Keystore, Lady Wynd, Cupar

2911011 SSHC kenny macaskill 'L - R: Fahim Ashiq (store owner), Kenny MacAskill (Justice Secretary), Sgt Callum Winton - discussing alcohol abuse and how local shopkeepers tackle the problem - at Keystore, Lady Wynd, Cupar

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A CUPAR shop has been praised by Scotland’s justice minister for being at the forefront of a new Fife Police initiative to tackle alcohol abuse by youngsters.

During his visit to the Key Store in Ladywynd, Kenny MacAskill told the Fife Herald licensees like Fahim Ashiq (Ash) were helping improve the lives of people in their communities by taking ‘a responsible’ approach.

Ash has just signed up to the new ‘Bottlewatch’ scheme which involves every bottle of alcohol sold by a store being stamped with a non-removable code which can be traced back to those premises.

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Mr MacAskill said this should enable police officers to pin-point where alcohol was sold, should it fall into the hands of youngsters, as well as aiding prosecution of those involved.

“Bottlewatch is an excellent initiative from Fife Police whom I fully support in their efforts in making significant improvements in tackling the problem of youngsters getting alcohol,” he said.

“I hope other stores will follow Ash’s example and get involved.

“This addresses the problem of proxy buying where kids get an adult to buy drink for them and makes it easier for police to trace the perpetrators.”

Mr MacAskill said the SNP Government also aimed to bring its ‘minimum pricing’ policy back to the Scottish Parliament soon and said he hoped this would help deter youths from buying cut-price alcohol and running amok in their communities.

“There are certain brands that seem to be favoured by young people because they are cheap and often on special offer,” he said.

“Our mimium pricing policy will stop this and, as has been pointed out today, hopefully prevent groups of youths from causing anti-social behaviour in communities.”

Commenting on his own attitude to alcohol abuse by youngsters, Ash said his motivation for getting involved was to “stop kids getting hold of drink and causing damage to themselves.”

“I have various ways of doing this including abiding by licencing laws, not offering cut price or multi-buy offers and keeping the kind of alcohol kids might want close to the counter so we can keep an eye on it,” he said.

“I am pleased that we have been recognised as pioneering this project for this area of Fife and hope other traders will follow suit.”