Minister praises test purchase pass rate

11 October, 2007

Drinks retailers are successfully passing more test purchases than they were a year ago, according to the results of a 10-week national campaign.

Fourteen per cent of off-licences targeted by test purchasers involved in the government’s Tackling Underage Sales of Alcohol Campaign were caught selling alcohol to under 18s between May 4 and July 13 this year, compared to 20 per cent in 2006.

For the first time, police forces only targeted “problem” premises, instead of selecting them at random as in previous campaigns. Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said the results were therefore particularly encouraging.

He said: “I know that the industry has made significant efforts in recent years to educate staff and strengthen procedures. It is clear that the ‘Challenge 21’ policy is now becoming established as standard practice across the industry.

“This campaign clearly demonstrates that improvements can be made with only very few premises failing three times. However the underlying figures indicate there is still room for further improvements to stop the sales first time, every time.”

Of the 7,408 off-licences visited during the campaign, 833 sold alcohol to the under-age test purchaser once and 174 twice. Seventeen were caught selling alcohol three times and will now face a licence review as well as a fine of up to £10,000 and a ban on selling alcohol for three months.

TUSAC involved 166 police forces across the UK and is part of the government’s alcohol strategy - Safe, Sensible, Social - published in June. It’s main aim is to reduce alcohol harm among young people through tough law enforcement and effective education.

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