POLICE may be forced to deploy more officers during the Braw Lads' Gathering next year – in a bid to tackle underage drinking.

At Wednesday's meeting of Galashiels Community Council, local PC James Harrison said there had been an increase in the number of youngsters gathering to drink alcohol in public places.

And he stated police were looking at ways to combat the problem.

He told members: "During the Common Ridings there is always a problem with youths drinking.

"On the Friday night we were out with school officers, but it was just police who were out on the Saturday.

"I think for next year we might have to see if we can get more officers out to cover the whole weekend in order to clamp down on the issue.

"This is the only real problem we faced during the event. When I looked at the reports they stated the rest had passed without incident."

The community council also discussed proposals to introduce a by-law which would ban drinking in public.

Scottish Borders Council launched a consultation to gauge public opinion earlier this year.

But members of the group were not convinced that is the answer and would punish law-abiding people.

Chairwoman Judith Cleghorn said: "I think introducing a by-law would only push people into drinking in the Gala Policies.

"If it did come into force, I think it would be a real shame that, on a nice day like today, people could not take a bottle of wine with their picnic to Bank Street Gardens, for example.

"And the proposals state that the by-law would be lifted during the Common Ridings, so it would make no difference to the situation at all."

PC Harrison agreed.

He added: "It is illegal for youths to be drinking in public spaces anyway.

"I don't think we had many problems with adults. Of course, as with every big gathering such as the Common Ridings and the rugby 7s, you always get the one or two idiots, but it was underage drinking causing the problem.

"There is already legislation in place to deal with the issue and antisocial behaviour."