Government's licensing review is shortsighted, says ACS

05 March, 2008

The Association of Convenience Stores has dubbed the government's latest drive to tackle under-age drinking "shortsighted" because it places too much responsibility on those selling alcohol.

In the first review of the Licensing Act yesterday, Culture, Media and Sport secretary Andy Burnham announced a raft of measures the government wants to see introduced to shape up the licensing system.

Burnham said he was giving licensing authorities more power to enforce the act by announcing that the "three strikes" rule currently applied to off-licences and pubs caught selling alcohol to under-18s would become "two strikes".

A yellow and red card alert system for businesses found to be breaching their licensing conditions is also to be introduced and authorities will have more power to refuse or withdraw all licences in an area considered problematic, regardless of whether a retailer is selling alcohol responsibly or not.

A spokesman for the ACS said the measures announced were not a "significant change" to those already in place under the Licensing Act, but nevertheless, mentioning them put too much emphasis on retailers and no-one else.

He said: "The government said nothing about the responsibilities and the sanctions that should be applied to people who are buying alcohol under-age or the adults who buy it for them.

"Suggestions that the only way to solve the problem of anti-social drinking is to target retailers is shortsighted."

The review also attracted criticism from opposition parties with shadow home secretary David Davis calling it "all spin and no substance."

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