Police seize fake IDs in focus on teen drinking

Police confiscated seven fraudulently used IDs in one night in Harrogate's towns and bars. (S)
Police confiscated seven fraudulently used IDs in one night in Harrogate's towns and bars. (S)

Police are clamping down on teenagers using fake IDs to get into pubs, clubs and bars in the Harrogate area.

Officers are touring venues in the town centre, confiscating fake IDs and talking to teenagers about the risks of underage drinking.

PC Matthew Balmforth, licensing officer for North Yorkshire Police, seized seven IDs in just one weekend in Harrogate on August 10 and 11.

All were either fake and from websites, or ‘borrowed’ from older friends or siblings.

“That’s seven young people that could have been arrested and prosecuted,” said PC Balmforth, an officer with 22 years’ experience. “We don’t want to criminalise young people. But there’s been an offence committed - it is fraudulent.

“The simple advice is wait until your old enough to drink. It’s not worth a potential criminal conviction.”

Another fake ID has since been discovered, said PC Balmforth, this one stating it was a ‘European Driving Licence’.

“It’s a matter that does seem to be getting more problematic over the past few years,” he said.

“More younger people are internet savvy and now they can go online and find these fake IDs. They are also borrowing older brother’s and sister’s IDs, trying to hoodwink door staff into letting them in. But they don’t realise the consequences.”

Possession of someone else’s passport or driving licence can result in up to two year’s imprisonment and a £5,000 fine. Even if documents are just confiscated, they can be costly to replace.

“These young people, from sixth form or school, want to let their hair down and socialise with their mates,” said PC Balmforth.

“The problem comes when they try and get into night clubs. They are not just there to listen to music, they are drinking and young people can’t always cope with their drink.”

Officers are speaking to door staff in the town centre, patrolling on weekends and working with local bar owners.

“Harrogate is a lovely place to live,” added PC Balmforth. “We don’t want this pleasant atmosphere to be degraded in any way.”