Scheme puts focus on communication

A responsible drinks retailing scheme being trialled in Cambridgeshire could be rolled out to the rest of the country.

The pilot, organised by the Wine

& Spirit Trade Association and involving 17 drinks shops, police and Trading Standards officers in St Neot's,

has been running since September . Its aim has been to encourage closer communication and sharing of best practice between

the parties .

If the scheme is considered successful at review in January

it could be rolled out to the county and possibly nationwide, according to

WSTA policy adviser Stephen Hogg.

Speaking at OLN's Responsible Drinks Retailing conference at the Landmark Hotel in London on Nov 22, Hogg said: "We want to work with Trading Standards to promote it within their own communication networks."

Trading Standards officers have even worked shifts in a branch of Spar to deepen their understanding of working on the front line. Hogg said: "We highly commend that approach."

The scheme aims to break down barriers between shopkeepers and the police, with all sides committed to sharing information on potential problems.

Test purchases will only be conducted in exceptional circumstances, with stores told of the result immediately.

Cambridgeshire Trading Standards and the police also agreed to focus more on proxy and under-age purchasers, including educational work with 16 and 17-year-old schoolchildren.

"The sole emphasis on under-age sales had to stop," said Hogg.

Hot tips from St Neot's

Best practice and training ideas shared among retailers

Trading Standards officers met personally with shopkeepers

More focus on under-age purchasers and proxy purchasers

Worked with press to promote positive stories

Trading Standards and police talked at schools and information sent to parents.

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