Shops caught selling alcohol to youngsters

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Police and Trading Standards carried out a successful ‘test purchase’ operation last weekend (April 12-13) to help tackle underage drinking in the county.

Officers and staff from Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire County Council’s Trading Standards, together with two volunteer test purchasers, aged 15 and 16, visited premises in Wellingborough, Kettering, Corby, Northampton and Brackley.

A total of 19 businesses were visited, 14 of which were off-licence premises. Four of the 14 off-licences and one of the five on-licence premises sold alcohol to the underage test purchasers.

Sergeant Mark Worthington, licensing officer for Northamptonshire Police, said: “I am very pleased that staff at many of the premises we checked refused the sales and challenged the youngsters for identification; however, it’s disappointing that some did sell alcohol without checking ID.

“The police and trading standards are determined to use all powers at our disposal to tackle underage drinking, which is a priority both for the force and for policing nationally.

“Premises that did sell to our young test purchasers must expect a second visit and persistent sales of alcohol to people under the age of 18 will result in prosecution and a review of their licence.

“At recent hearings across the county, various sanctions have been imposed, from stringent conditions applied to licenses and changes of ‘designated premises’ supervisors (the licensee), to the licence to sell alcohol being revoked.

“The licensed trade has a duty to do all they can to prevent the selling of alcohol to under-18s. The simplest and easiest way is to adopt the ‘Challenge 21’ policy – if you look under 21, you must prove you are over 18.

“Most young people expect to be challenged and will carry ID as a matter of course and we are now promoting greater use of PASS cards in licensed premises, so that people do not have to carry their passports with them on a night out.”