Off-licences pass under-age test purchasing operation

A joint alcohol test purchasing operation carried out by Devon County Council Trading Standards Service and Devon and Cornwall Police earlier this month has proved a success. The exercises, which took place in Torrington, Barnstaple and Braunton, were

A joint alcohol test purchasing operation carried out by Devon County Council Trading Standards Service and Devon and Cornwall Police earlier this month has proved a success.

The exercises, which took place in Torrington, Barnstaple and Braunton, were to check whether retailers would illegally sell alcohol to young people following an earlier operation in June.

On September 4, officers and a young volunteer visited a total of 11 businesses and all refused to sell alcohol to the youngster.

On the following day in Bideford, to coincide with the local carnival, two of the ten premises visited sold to the volunteer. Both of the sellers were subject to a fine and the businesses will have a follow-up test purchase operation. If the offence is repeated they could lose their licence and face prosecution.


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This latest operation saw a third fewer licenses selling to under18s compared with a similar operation in Barnstaple and Torrington in June of this year where six out of eighteen off-licenses sold to under-age volunteers.

The operations are co-ordinated through the Devon Alcohol Awareness Partnership, which represents agencies in Devon committed to reducing alcohol related harm.

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Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council's Cabinet Member for Environmental and Regulatory Services, said: "In national surveys, nearly half of the children under 17 claim to drink alcohol at least once a week and a similar number say they buy the alcohol themselves. No illegal sale of alcohol to a young person is acceptable, but we are pleased to see such an improvement in North Devon."

PC Paul Daw, of Barnstaple Police Neighbourhood Support Team, said: "The figures clearly show an improvement, with off-licensed premises becoming much more diligent with regard to not selling alcohol to under-age persons. I am pleased that the majority of the trade is taking its responsibilities seriously and implementing the measures to prevent such sales.

"There is a clear link between anti-social behaviour and alcohol use in young people. These operations conducted together with our partners at Trading Standards, help reduce alcohol getting into the hands of under-age persons."

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. The film and training materials can also be viewed online at www.swercots.org.uk .

Anyone who suspects a business is supplying alcohol to young people illegally, can report it anonymously on 'Trading Standards Confidential' on 01392 381380. General consumer advice is available from Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.

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