Think hard about implications of refusing sales to under-21s
Published:  27 July, 2007

I was concerned to see the advice offered in a recent edition of OLN (What's Your


June 15 ) relating to requests from the police to stop selling alcohol to under-21s. It is, of course, essential for retailers to take their responsibilities

with regard

to alcohol very seriously, and to do what they can to ensure that alcohol is sold legally and responsibly and, in particular, ensure that alcohol is not sold to under-18s.

I am less clear however, that it is in anyone's interest to, de facto, raise the minimum alcohol purchase age to 21. It is perfectly legal to sell alcohol to someone over the age of 18 and retailers should not be considered

"irresponsible " for doing so. Obviously, the police can suggest licence conditions to the Licensing Authority, who may impose conditions when granting a licence or during a review, and retailers are bound to abide by them. But it does not follow that such voluntary agreements should automatically be entered into.

Not only will accepting such voluntary conditions increase the pressure on other local retailers to do likewise, it

could lead to unnecessary confrontations with young people who can legally buy alcohol else where but are being refused on the grounds of a local policy.

Sometimes the police may suggest this action as a result of a particularly difficult local situation which is having a detrimental effect on local crime and disorder levels and on local businesses. In such cases, businesses may consider that taking such action would be in everyone's interest.

We would advise retailers who have been approached with this suggestion to consider it very carefully.

Jeremy Beadles


executive, WSTA


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