Barnstaple and Braunton pubs sold alcohol to children
NEARLY half of pubs and clubs in Barnstaple and Braunton sold alcohol to children during a joint operation by Devon County Council Trading Standards Service and Devon and Cornwall Police this month. Six out of the 14 licensed premises sold alcohol to a 15
NEARLY half of pubs and clubs in Barnstaple and Braunton sold alcohol to children during a joint operation by Devon County Council Trading Standards Service and Devon and Cornwall Police this month.
Six out of the 14 licensed premises sold alcohol to a 15 and 16-year-old child during the test purchase initiative on Friday, October 2 and Saturday, October 3.
The individuals who served the drinks to young volunteers were issued with a fixed penalty notice fine, while enquiries are still ongoing and a decision is yet to be made as to what action is to be taken against the licensees.
Trading standards officers and the police have described the 43 per cent failure rate of as "alarming".
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Councillor Roger Croad, the council's Cabinet Member for Environmental and Regulatory Services, said every member of staff responsible for alcohol sales must be prepared to challenge youngsters to prove their age.
He said: "The request to see valid photo identification for anyone who might appear under 21 has to become standard practice.
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"Businesses should use the 'No Proof Of Age - No Sale' materials that have been freely provided by trading standards, or a suitable alternative, and ensure their staff follow the simple advice given to prevent further illegal sales."
PC Paul Daw, of Barnstaple's Neighbourhood Support Team said: "The six who recently broke the law and sold alcohol to customers who were obviously under 18 is a cause of considerable concern.
"Such sales show gross disregard on behalf of the staff involved. Such irresponsible conduct will not be tolerated in North Devon.
"It was a great disappointment that these premises failed to challenge the children; however, we are confident that a determined and ongoing partnership involving trading standards officers and police officers working together will rectify the situation in our area.
"Alcohol consumption is a major contributor to street disorder, violence, and antisocial behaviour. The people of Barnstaple and Braunton have a right to expect those who sell alcohol to do all they can to prohibit illegal sales to young people.
"In a similar vein we must take this opportunity to appeal to the parents of children under 18, who have purchased alcohol illegally, to challenge their offspring about how they are spending their time.
"Parental interest such as this, when children return home under the influence of drink, is particularly relevant."
Trading standards and police are to continue working in partnership with further unannounced test purchasing operations across North Devon.
The test purchasing involves 14 to 16-year-old volunteers, who attempt to purchase alcohol. Using a nationally agreed code of practice, the children must not "dress-up" to enhance their age in any way, nor lie or otherwise attempt to persuade an assistant to sell to them.
In a similar operation in June, a third of off-licenses in Barnstaple and Torrington sold alcohol to under 18s
Businesses wanting help and advice on how to avoid selling to those under age, or wishing to obtain a copy of the free 'No Proof of Age - No Sale' staff training CD-ROM should contact the Devon County Council Trading Standards Service Helpline on (01392) 381381. General consumer advice is available from Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.
Anyone with concerns about businesses in their area selling alcohol to people under the age of 18, or with problems regarding youth drunkenness, should contact Devon and Cornwall Constabulary on 08452 777444. They can also call the Trading Standards' Confidential Hotline on (01392) 381380.