The Public Protection Partnership (PPP), which delivers Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Licensing services across Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire and Wokingham Borough, has identified that 58% of 86 local off-licences tested in a recent test purchasing operation potentially breached their licence conditions by not asking for identification before selling alcohol to a 20 year old volunteer.
The mystery shopper, aged 20 years old, visited 86 local stores and tried to purchase alcohol. The young person took no means of identification with them but was still able to purchase alcohol from 50 of the retailers.
The law in the UK states that customers must be 18 years or over to buy alcohol and they must provide proof of age if challenged. Although there were no Trading Standards offences from underage sales the retailers potentially breached their licence conditions by failing to ask for identification before the sale of alcohol to a young person.
Cllr Iain McCracken, chairman of the joint public protection committee, said: “All retailers selling alcohol are required to have an age verification policy in place as part of their premises licence. Most stores run a Challenge 21 or Challenge 25 policy which means they should be asking for ID if the person purchasing the alcohol looks either 21 or 25, or under. The Challenge retailing strategies encourage anyone who is over 18, but looks under 21 or 25, to carry acceptable ID if they wish to buy alcohol, such as a card bearing the PASS hologram, a photographic driving licence or a passport.”
He went onto say: “Businesses who aren’t checking the age of young customers before they sell alcohol to them, by asking for and checking ID, are causing potential risk to the health and wellbeing of local young people. The PPP encourages all businesses selling alcohol, and any Age Restricted Product, to run a Challenge 25 policy and to train all staff on how to carry out the policy.”
Premises will be checked again to ensure their future compliance. Any repeat sales will result in all possible enforcement options being considered including prosecution or review of their licence.
Any residents of Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire or Wokingham Borough councils that have concerns about activity of this nature, or any other trading standards or public protection matter, should contact the service on 01635 519930 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.