Half of shops fail alcohol age test

PUBLISHED: 12:40 16 February 2006 | UPDATED: 11:33 04 May 2010

HALF of all the shops checked in a trading standards crack-down the Ely area were prepared to sell drink to an underage buyer, a Trading Standards investigation has found. Police and officers from Cambridgeshire County Council used a 15-year-old volunteer

HALF of all the shops checked in a trading standards crack-down the Ely area were prepared to sell drink to an underage buyer, a Trading Standards investigation has found.

Police and officers from Cambridgeshire County Council used a 15-year-old volunteer to try and buy alcohol from six shops and supermarkets in Ely and Littleport - and three of the retailers sold the drink without checking the age or identity of the buyer.

The operation, carried out on January 27, was the latest undercover operation of its kind undertaken jointly by the county council and Cambridgeshire police.

Head of programmes for Cambridgeshire Trading Standards, Malcolm Taylor, said: "It is extremely disappointing that retailers continue to sell alcohol to underage buyers. The harm that children can suffer as a result of excessive consumption of alcohol is well known and the resultant anti-social behaviour blights the lives of everyone in the community.

"The premises were targeted following information from the police, who have identified increased anti-social behaviour associated with excessive drinking by young people. The links between under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour are well established, but what is not always appreciated by children is the danger they are putting themselves in and the harm they are doing to their health."

Brian Tully, anti-social behaviour co-ordinator for the east Cambridgeshire Community Safety Partnership, added: "This result is a big disappointment because one of the most annoying types of anti-social behaviour in the eyes of the community is to see young people-obviously under age- causing a public nuisance through alcohol consumption."

Shop staff who made the underage sales were fined £80 and shop managers spoken to by Cambridgeshire police.

Rowland Wilson, licensing officer at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "Despite the stores concerned operating a 'proof of age policy' the ease which a 15-year-old could purchase alcohol is a major concern to The Licensing Authority, we will now hope to address these issues with the companies by asking them to look at staff training policies and how in future they will deal with sales of alcohol.

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