Off-trade leads way in battle against under-age drinking

18 February, 2008

Off-licences and supermarkets are making better efforts to stop under-age drinks sales than pubs and clubs, according to results from an independent test-purchase company.

Sixty per cent of off-trade premises passed 2,526 “mystery visits” made by Serve Legal during the second half of 2007. This was compared to 40 per cent of the 2,000 visits it made to on-trade premises.

The tests, carried out by Serve Legal on behalf of retailers such as the Thresher Group, Tesco, Waitrose and Budgens, entail "young-looking" people making anonymous visits to sites to ensure staff are checking for ID and refuse service where necessary.

Serve Legal director Ed Heaver said the off-trade was being more pro-active in dealing with attempts from under-age customers to buy alcohol, but said members still had more to do to convince police and councils of their efforts.

He said: “Businesses must respond and be seen to act positively to the pressure being exerted by Government and the police. Beating the problem of serving to under-age drinkers is now a top priority.”

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