Teenage drinking dens face clampdown

The local authorities association VNG and food safety body VWA are to clamp down on illegal teenage drinking dens, a spokesman confirmed on Friday. The VWA is charged with making sure Dutch laws on alcoholic drinks are not broken, but says it has no control over the sheds and caravans where many teenagers meet to drink, especially in rural areas.

The Netherlands has an estimated 1,500 to 2,500 illegal bars where children as young as 13 are regular customers, the AD newspaper reported on Friday. Around 25% of customers are below the official drinking age. ‘It is an extremely serious situation,’ the VWA told the AD.
Under Dutch law, café owners and shop keepers are not allowed to sell any alcohol to those under 16. But illegal bars have no legal owner, making it impossible for the VWA to prosecute. In fact it is difficult to establish the legal status of the bars concerned as they are usually on private property, the spokesman said.
Teenage drinking in the Netherlands, which is high compared to the rest of Europe, is currently the subject of wide concern. Police in Deventer are to crack down on teenage drinkers by fining them for being drunk in public, unless they agree to go on a rehabilitation course. And Delft has a special clinic for children with alcohol problems.
The number of under-16s being treated in hospital for alcohol poisoning has gone up 16-fold since the end of the 1990s.

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