Officers across the North East have carried out a Licensing operation in Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Elgin and Inverurie, visiting more than 60 premises to ensure licensees and staff are suitably trained and adhering to conditions to promote responsible drinking.
Led on Friday evening (January 27) by Licensing Inspector for the North East Kenny McGeough, and supported by local authority Licensing Standards officers, the team mainly focused on 'off-sales' with officers reminding retailers of the crucial role they play in ensuring the undesired effects of alcohol are minimised.
In addition, the team was supported by the Divisional Alcohol and Violence Reduction Unit (DAVRU) which carried out a string of warrants in Aberdeen, Peterhead and Fraserburgh in the lead-up to the operation to target offenders linked to violent crime.
Inspector McGeough said: "When it comes to responsible drinking, licensed premises play a huge part in providing a safe environment for members of the public to enjoy their nights out. But we cannot ignore the 'off-sales' trade which caters for 75% of alcohol sold.
"This alcohol is often consumed in large quantities and in private, and drinking alcohol at home before a night out - also known as 'pre-loading' - can be problematic if done so in large quantities.
"Off-sales licence holders and staff work extremely hard and show a real willingness to eradicate problems and reduce incidents of violence but they have limited power to manage the consumption of alcohol once it has been purchased.
"They can, however, actively regulate how much alcohol is sold and who it is sold to. That is why we are fully committed to working in partnership with the Licensing trade to share information, expertise and target our resources in the right places to achieve long term results."
He added: "I would also urge the public to assist with our efforts to tackle alcohol-fuelled crimes by drinking responsibly at home and whilst out to ensure your evening does not end in the wrong way. Alcohol itself doesn't make people violent but it lowers inhibitions and increases risk taking behaviour which can compromise your own and others safety. As such, both the public and licensed premises are crucial partners with Police Scotland to help manage and reduce this.
"We all have a role to play in ensuring nights out are memorable for all the right reasons and by working together we can make a real difference."
In support of the operation, officers from DAVRU - led by Inspector Lee Jardine - carried out a string of warrants in Aberdeen, Peterhead and Fraserburgh to target offenders linked to violent crime.
Two men aged 19 and 21 were arrested in relation to outstanding warrants for crimes of violence in Aberdeen and Peterhead, while a 34-year-old male from Liverpool was also arrested in relation to an alleged domestic assault and carrying a weapon.
A 49-year-old man was also arrested in connection with a serious assault reported in the Tillydrone area of Aberdeen, as well as a 25-year-old man regarding threatening behaviour in Peterhead
Inspector Jardine said: "Last year North East Division launched Operation PINE, a targeted initiative to tackle violent crime across the region. The unit works closely with the Licensing team given the link between excessive alcohol consumption and violent crime.
"Activities from both teams on Friday have led to the apprehension of several violent offenders and hopefully prevented further acts of violence from taking place."