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Council tackles under age drinking

beer bottles
More than a third of all off-licences failed the under-age drinking spot-checks
Herts says spot-checks on targeted off-licences have revealed that more than a third sold alcohol to under age drinkers.

The authority’s trading standards unit, working alongside local police, says this is despite warnings issued before the exercise took place.

The checks, which were carried out with the help of young volunteers all aged under 18, were part of a campaign to try to curb under-age drinking in Hertfordshire.

Despite warning licensees to be on their guard, and reminding them of the consequences of breaking the law, 34% of all the licensed premises visited still sold alcohol to 13 and 14-year-old test purchasers.

A council spokesperson said it is a disappointing result, and might have been much worse had the authority not issued the warning first.

"Residents of Hertfordshire are sick and tired of anti-social behaviour by a minority of young people – which can be fuelled by illegally-purchased alcohol. We are determined to do everything in our power, to help the police reduce this problem," the spokesperson said.

The authority will now be making sure that those licensees who have sold alcohol to under-age drinkers are thoroughly investigated.

According to the council, the owners of the off-licences who failed the spot-checks now risk being prosecuted and losing their licences.

"More spot checks are being lined up until the message gets through that illegal sales will not be tolerated in Hertfordshire," the council spokesperson said.

The council says that in all of failed spot-checks, the sellers didn’t even ask for proof of age - an obvious check to make.

There was also clear evidence that some licensees are failing to ensure that front-line staff are aware of the law.

According to the investigating team, there were instances when sellers were not 18 themselves. Some thought the legal age for selling alcohol was 16. Other sellers were not employees at all, but were simply ‘minding the shop’.

You can discuss this and other issues in this site's forum. There is a thread entitled 'kids on the street', and another about security in the village.

14 November 2003

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