Press releases

Trading standards tools to combat underage drinking must be safeguarded

Trading standards tools to combat underage drinking must be safeguarded to combat societal issue of underage drinking. 

The importance of trading standards retaining the right tools to combat underage drinking was highlighted at the Trading Standards Institute’s Conference in Edinburgh.

The message from the Underage Sales and Localisation session was clear: partnership working and clear, consistent messages to consumers and businesses are required to tackle the increasingly serious issue of teenage drinking.

The number of units of alcohol consumed by 11 – 13-year-olds per week has doubled in the past 15 years.

Claire Turner, from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: 'What we have found is that youngsters are drinking more and starting younger.

'These are complicated problems that need complicated solutions.'

Trading Standards Institute’s age restricted sales lead officer Brandon Cook 'For us it is not about how many test purchases or prosecutions we carry out per year, it is about outcomes; improving health prospects and reducing crime levels.
'Trading standards have to work with business, young people and communities, all in partnership, to achieve this.'

Discussing what shape the solutions should take Mr Cook pointed out that trading standards have dedicated officers for this area of work but warned against taking away the tools they have to help deal with the problem – these include test purchasing and the use of the Regulatory Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000.

He said: 'When we carry out test purchases we don’t want the sale to happen and we don’t want to prosecute. 

'I think test purchasing is part of the solution and is a valuable tool in the drawer, keeping businesses on their toes to a degree.

'Surveillance is another method we use to combat underage sales, using RIPA.  If tools like RIPA are taken away from us, we cannot continue to do the work that we do – work that is valued by communities.

'Retailers have taken huge strides forward in compliance, but we need to keep the plates spinning.'

Notes for Editors:

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact the Trading Standards Institute press officer Irja Howie on 07780675815 or by e-mail on
From Conference we have access to an ISDN line.

16 June 2010

Trading Standards Institute (TSI)

TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally.  We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.
TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.  We are also supporting the delivery of initiatives such as the advice services Consumer Direct, UK ECC and UK ECCS.

The Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference 2010

The national Consumer Affairs and Trading Standards Conference 2010, organised by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is a 'must' for consumer journalists!
The TSI-hosted annual Conference and Exhibition is the leading consumer affairs and trading standards event in Europe.
The 2010 Conference is being held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre from Tuesday 15 June to Thursday 17 June.
Journalists and photographers are welcome to attend but should contact the press office on 0845 608 9430 to arrange passes.
Please contact the press office should you wish to organise any interviews – an ISDN line is available for pre-booking.
The conference is hosted by TSI chairman David Sanders and the main sponsor is the Electrical Safety Council. 
Some 3,000 people are attending the conference, including representatives from local and central government and those interested in fair trading, representatives of business and commerce, together with consumer organisations. This makes it an ideal place for consumer affairs journalists to mingle and make contacts!
Visit for more information.