How a 13-year-old drunk became national news

By Hamish Mackay

A routine reporting assignment for a Scottish evening newspaper
turned into a front-page splash that was picked up by media outlets
across the country and led to questions being asked in the Scottish
Parliament.

The splash and a double-page spread in the Aberdeen Evening Express
on the dangers of underage drinking gave a fresh impetus to moves
across the UK to tackle the problem.

The story revealed how a
13-year-old girl was found drunk and unconscious in the snow on a
street corner, dressed only in a cropped top, short skirt and heels.

Taken
to hospital suffering from acute alcohol intoxication and hypothermia,
she didn’t recover consciousness for six hours after admission.

A school friend was found at around the same time slumped across the pavement in a similar condition and taken to hospital.

Evening
Express reporter Katrina McClintock and photographer Rory Raitt had
been invited to join a police patrol to monitor teenage drinking in
Westhill, one of Aberdeen’s most affluent suburbs. Raitt shot off a
series of dramatic pictures of the first girl being treated by an
ambulance crew, which were subsequently published by national
newspapers.

The Evening Express report was highlighted in the
Scottish Parliament by Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie during First
Minister’s questions. She is now to meet justice minister Cathy
Jamieson to discuss how planned reforms of the children’s hearing
system can take underage drinking into account.

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