Police get tough on retailers

05 February, 2010

Stores caught selling alcohol to children twice within three months will automatically face a licence review or closure notice under new police powers in?England and Wales.

The new measure replaces a “three strikes and you’re out” rule and is part of a Home Office package designed to tackle under-age drinking.

Although “two strikes” will lead to an automatic review, it’s already possible for one indiscretion to lead to a review if a case is pursued aggressively enough by local police.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: “Talk of two or three strikes can be misleading. However, the tightening up of the law on closure notices should remind retailers to sharpen up their procedures to stop under-age sales. We are pressing for guidance for enforcement agencies stating retailers should be informed of their first transgression before further test purchasing is carried out.”?The ACS has produced a pack for retailers containing a booklet on handling confrontations with customers, Challenge 25 posters, and a training card to help stores identify genuine ID.

The new package of Home Office measures also sees local councillors given rights to call for a review to restrict or remove a licence from premises they feel are problematic, without having to rely on police or local residents’ complaints.

Police can now confiscate alcoholic drinks from under-18s without having to prove they intended to consume them.

They can also disperse groups of children as young as 10 from public places, a ploy which had previously only been allowed for over-16s. A new offence for children repeatedly caught with alcohol has also come into force.

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said: “These powers will make it easier for police to take tough action against groups whose behaviour can affect a whole community.”?The new measures, introduced in last year’s Policing & Crime Act, are part of a government strategy to tackle under-age drinking set out in 2008’s Youth Alcohol Action Plan.

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