An illuminating piece in the current edition of Private Eye regarding the binge drinking epidemic:
"A vow to curb teenage drinkers was esposed as a sham yesterday with figures showing kids go unpunished," declared the Mirror last Saturday. "In the past three years, only 34 children have been prosecuted for buying booze. And just seven landlords got the top £1,000 fine for selling booze to underage drinkers".
Curiously, the paper overlooked another glaring exanple of the law going easy on an adult who supplied booze to children. Just one day previously, a 29-year-old journalist from the South West News Service agency had accepted a caution from Avon and Somerset Police for giving cider and alcopops to a group of 16-year-olds in Bristol, so they could pose for a series of photographs intended to illustrate an article on under-age drinking for... The Mirror!
Tha hapless hack told the youngsters they were welcome to keep the booze when the shoot was finished - and several went on to be involved later that night in what police describe as "a serious disorder incident" which resulted in a teenager being left in a coma for several weeks.
This comes as no surprise to anyone who has watched one of those 'Binge Britain' programmes, where the presence of the camera crew distorts usual behaviour. My favourite clip is the one with a bunch of girls walking down the street, chatting and laughing, until they see the camera and run towards it pulling up their tops to show their tits. This clip was used on all the trailers for the programme to show how bad things were. No-one seems to have watched the clip carefully enough to realise that if the camera hadn't been there, they wouldn't have done it...