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SNAP status removed from gig

FLEET police have distanced themselves from a Hart Council-run disco after they discovered that 11-year-olds will be mingling with revellers aged up to 25.

FLEET police have distanced themselves from a Hart Council-run disco after they discovered that 11-year-olds will be mingling with revellers aged up to 25.

Police withdrew their SNAP (Say No And Phone) logo, which it uses for its discos for 11 to 16-year-olds, when they found out that the organisers of the April 19 SCAM Live festival had widened the age group for the event.

Taking place at the Harlington Centre the gig, from 7.30-11pm, has been organised by Hart Council, Point Cyber Centre, Hampshire Youth Service, Hampshire County Council and the Lions. Several bands will be performing.

The police will now treat the event like any other at a town centre venue, so there will be no police on site unless they are called for an emergency.

Parents and the police are worried that the youngsters who attend will be exposed to cigarettes and alcohol.

The police also believe that many parents will not even know of the age change.

The level of concern promoted some worried parents to contact the News in a bid to warn other parents.

One parent of a 13-year-old girl said: "I was horrified to learn that the Youth Workers Group have taken it upon themselves to open the age.

"The flyers that have been given out have not stated the age group, therefore parents are going to be none the wiser of these changes which are putting, in my opinion, these children in moral danger."

Insp Steve Coward, of Fleet police, said that at first they thought that two events, SNAP and SCAM Live, would be run at the same time, so officers were happy to supply policing as they would for a SNAP disco.

But when they discovered the change, they had to pull out.

He said: "We felt the age group was not appropriate for a SNAP disco and that we could not police it as a SNAP event.

He continued: "The whole idea of SNAP is to promote a healthy lifestyle and that includes not smoking or drinking alcohol, and parents can be happy that their children will not be exposed to that at a SNAP disco. But the moment the edges are blurred on the age limit we cannot enforce this, as 16-year-olds are entitled to have cigarettes.

"Parents need to know SCAM Live is not a SNAP disco. If they are taking an under-16 year old there they need to know an older age group will be in attendance."

However Malcolm Rittman, Hampshire County Council's county youth officer, claims the event will be safe. He said: "The SCAM event in Fleet provides opportunities for young people to showcase their musical talent and for others to enjoy a leisure activity in a safe environment.

"All of the young people who attend will be supervised by security officers, youth service staff and other volunteers.

"No alcohol will be on sale at the event and smoking will not be allowed inside the Harlington Centre.

"The Youth Service has significant experience of organising and managing activities of this kind."


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
Joshua Smith
Farnborough Reporter
Jon Couch
Sport Editor
Stephen Lloyd
Fleet & Yateley Reporter
Ros Collins
Junior News & Mail
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