Underage sales of alcohol and tobacco decrease in North East Lincolnshire
ALCOHOL and tobacco retailers in North East Lincolnshire were today praised by enforcement agencies for preventing underage sales.
Figures show that from April 2011 to March 2012, only 12 premises failed a test purchase for alcohol or tobacco out of 159 undercover operations – equating to a failure rate of only 7.5 per cent. This is a huge improvement on the failure rate recorded in 2007, which was over 22 per cent.
Traders who failed last year’s tests were given advice, and five were the subject of further action which included alcohol licence reviews, 48-hours closure notices, and a formal caution. All of the premises that failed test purchases passed on re-test.
Test purchase operations are carried out regularly by North East Lincolnshire Council’s public protection department, which includes trading standards, licensing and environmental health, in conjunction with Humberside Police. They use volunteers under the legal age for the products concerned.
Test purchases are organised on an intelligence basis following complaints received by concerned members of the public. Traders who fail a test purchase are visited and given guidance on how to avoid selling to young people. This includes advice on operating a ‘Challenge 25’ policy, which requires that anybody who appears to be under the age of 25 is asked to produce photographic identification to confirm their age. Action is then taken against any traders who fail a second time within three months.
Inspector Neil Pattison of Humberside Police added: “There is a clear link between under-age people consuming alcohol and disorder on our streets. It is good to note that sales to under-18s have fallen, however we will not be complacent and will continue to work closely with trading standards to target premises, both on and off licence, who we suspect are selling to under age people. Anyone with any information is encouraged to contact North East Lincolnshire Council on (01472) 324770, Humberside Police on 101 or Crime stoppers on 0800 555111.”
Councillor David Bolton, the council’s portfolio holder for community safety and neighbourhoods, said: “This shows the importance of the work done by the relevant bodies on education as well as enforcement, and it also shows that local businesses have a commitment to improving the situation in North East Lincolnshire. Reducing the availability of alcohol and tobacco to young people is a high priority for this council in order to reduce the risk of harm to children, both short- and long-term. This is a problem that will never go away, however with a co-ordinated approach by all concerned the avenues for young people to access age restricted products can be greatly reduced. I would like to praise all the traders involved for these great results.”
Beverley Compton, head of improved health at the council, said: “These results are excellent and show that the ‘No I.D., no sale’ and ‘Challenge 25’ messages do work. We know that it is not easy to accurately judge the age of a young person every time, which is why we always encourage businesses to train and support their staff to prevent under age sales.”
If anybody has any concerns about traders in their area selling age restricted products to young people or would like to put their name forward as a test purchase volunteer, please contact trading standards on (01472) 324770 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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