Joint bid to target underage alcohol sales in Northamptonshire

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A ‘test purchase’ operation was carried out across Northamptonshire last weekend as part of a joint police and Trading Standards effort to tackle underage drinking.

The operation saw officers team up with two volunteer purchasers, aged 15 and 16, to visit premises in Northampton, Brackley, Wellingborough, Corby and Kettering.

A total of 19 businesses were checked, 14 of which were off-licence premises. The others were pubs and bars.

Four of the 14 off-licences and one of the five public houses sold alcohol to the underage test purchasers.

Sergeant Mark Worthington, licensing officer for Northamptonshire Police said: “I am very pleased that staff at many of the premises we checked refused the sales and challenged the youngsters for identification; however, it’s disappointing that some did sell alcohol without checking ID.

“Premises that did sell to our young test purchasers must expect a second visit and persistent sales of alcohol to people under the age of 18 will result in prosecution and a review of their licence.”

Sgt Worthington said punishments for persistent sales to underage drinkers can result in having the licence to sell alcohol revoked.

He said traders should seek to operate a ‘Challenge 21’ policy – challenging the age of anyone that looks under the age of 21.

He added: “Most young people expect to be challenged and will carry ID as a matter of course and we are now promoting greater use of PASS cards in licensed premises, so that people do not have to carry their passports with them on a night out.”