News item

Do you know what your children are drinking?

That is the message from Leicestershire County Council’s Trading Standards Service in the wake of a series of test purchase operations.

More than one in three retailers sold alcohol to teenagers aged either 14,15 or 16 during test purchase operations that were carried out between July and October (27 attempts by teenagers resulted in 11 sales carried).

Pam Posnett, Leicestershire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Trading Standards, added: “As part of Alcohol Awareness Week we would also ask parents and carers to be vigilant – do you know what your children are drinking? 

“Whilst we will do what we can to prevent underage sales, we would ask parents to ensure their children are aware of the effects of alcohol and the legality around buying it.”

As a result of the sales, six penalty notices and five warning letters were issued. Two businesses also had additional alcohol licence conditions added to their licences, requiring them to improve their procedures to help avoid selling alcohol to those aged under 18. 

Dave Bull, Head of Leicestershire County Council’s Trading Standards Service, said: “It is always disappointing when a business sells alcohol to a child and we will continue to advise businesses about the law, which quite frankly is fairly simple - do not sell alcohol to under 18s. If in doubt ask for photo identification to check their age.”

Detective Superintendent Andy Lee of Leicestershire Police said: “We work in partnership with licensing departments and trading standards teams in an attempt to minimise risk to young people in communities. 

“We also ask the public that, if approached outside a shop by young people asking for alcohol to be bought for them, do not do so but report it through to 101, Crimestoppers or by contacting your local trading standards officers via Citizens Advice 08454 04 05 06.”

It is illegal for retailers to sell alcohol to under-18s and persistent offenders are liable to a maximum fine of £20,000.  Buying alcohol on behalf of under 18s can also result in a fine of £90. 

If you are a parent / carer and have concerns or questions about your child drinking, useful information can be found at www.drinkaware.co.uk

Residents who have concerns about their own drinking can talk to their local GP or speak to drug and alcohol charity Swanswell in confidence on 0300 303 5000

Leicestershire County Council’s Trading Standards Service offer advice and guidance packs to businesses about underage sales. More information on this, including a short advice video, is available at: www.leics.gov.uk/trading_standards_test_purchasing_policy

Notes 

From July to October this year Leicestershire Trading Standards Service carried out various  test purchase operations in Charnwood, Harborough, Oadby and Wigston, Blaby, Hinckley and North West Leicestershire. 

Attempts were made on 27 occasions to buy alcohol resulting in 11 sales and 9 attempts to buy cigarettes resulting in one sale.  Six Penalty notice for disorder (fines) have been issued and 5 warning letters sent. Two businesses have had conditions added to their licence.  Investigations are on going. 

Six volunteers were used; 1 aged 16, 4 aged 15 and 1 aged 14.  The 14 year old was sold alcohol on two occasions.  

Prior to the test purchase operations Trading Standards Officers take the time to visit each of the retailers, to provide them with a guidance pack and  to explain the law and recommend ways to prevent illegal sales.  Despite this more than one in three retailers sold alcohol to school aged children.

Contact information 

Karen Retallic 

0116 305 6548. 

Paul Davis, 

Tel 0116 3056534. 

Details of where test purchase operations were carried out 

7 North West Leicestershire 

8 Blaby 

8 Charnwood 

7 Hinckley and Bosworth 

4 Harborough 

2 Oadby and Wigston 

DATE: 21 November 2013