We'll stop kids getting their hands on booze

SPY kids working for the police will test every licensed premises in Glasgow during a city-wide
operation.

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Detectives will send youngsters into almost 2000 pubs, clubs, corner shops and supermarkets, as part of a "test purchasing" scheme.

It is part of a major crackdown aimed at

violent criminals, gangs and serious and organised crime groups, which gets under way today.

Operation Relay, which starts in the Govan and Craigton, will see officers in the Greater Glasgow division take part in two months of intense action in an attempt to

reduce crime at every level.

The blitz was launched by two of Glasgow's most senior officers, Superintendents Thom McLoughlin and Brian McInulty.

Mr McLoughlin said the project, which has taken months to plan, is about "early intervention" to prevent crime.

He said: "We always see a crime spike at this time of year, but we plan to target crime right at the heart, where it starts, rather than reacting.

"Throughout Operation Relay, we will be tackling the causes of crime and focusing on long-term solutions by having the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

"People will see an

increase in the number of police officers on the streets and at transport hubs throughout Operation Relay."

Senior officers believe targeting "low-level"

offending, such as street drinking, anti-social

behaviour and disorder, can reduce the number of violent incidents.

Test purchase operations, the scheme under which underage teenagers see if they can buy booze, are part of that.

"We are doing everything we can to stop children getting alcohol", said Mr McInulty.

"Local policing officers have delivered letters to every licensed premises across the division.

"We have told licence holders that test purchase agents will be sent to their premises and if the premises fail the test, they will be reported."

Test Purchase

Operations are just part of an increasing drive to stop youngsters getting their hands on alcohol.

As well as tackling

violence, disorder, and anti-social behaviour,

Operation Relay will see officers targeting serious and organised crime gangs.

Asked if he had a message for Glasgow's gangsters, Superintendent McLoughlin warned:

"Expect a knock on your door. It might be during the day, it might be at night, but it will happen.

"We will not tolerate crime, including drug dealing, at any level."

Both superintendents said they would use Proceeds Of Crime laws to disrupt the activity of organised criminals. Police and prosecutors can use these laws to seize huge sums of cash from gangsters.

Mr McLoughlin said:

"Operation Relay is a sustained attack on criminality.

"It is about early intervention, targeting and disrupting criminal activities and taking away any crime assets using legislation."

"Criminals will be targeted right across the division."

Operation Relay runs from today until May 31.

As well as stamping out violence and disrupting organised crime, officers want to make communities safer. Reassuring the public will be a key part of the initiative.

Extra resources will be drafted in and every available officer will be involved in the operation.

Superintendent McInulty said: "If people have any concerns, tell us about them, we need to know."

Police will also be working with British Transport Police and deploying high-visibility patrols around Glasgow's transport hubs.

Central Station, Queen Street Station and

Buchanan Bus Station will be focus points during

Operation Relay,

The intelligence-led operation is aimed at reducing levels of violence, disorder, gang related activity, anti-social behaviour, road traffic and drug offences.

Mr McLoughlin added: "What works for one division might not work for another, so we have devised specific policing plans.

"We will be working with our partners, like HM Revenue & Customs, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and UK Border Agency, as part of a massive plan to improve communities.

"It is about targeting the offenders who cause the most harm to people and their communities.

"For me, there is a clear line in the sand and we will stop at nothing to protect you. But if you cross that line, we will stop at nothing to bring you to justice."

rebecca.gray@eveningtimes.co.uk

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