A number of businesses across the county have been caught selling alcohol to people underage in a joint operation between Norfolk County Council’s Trading Standards and Norfolk police’s Licensing Unit.
An underage young volunteer was used in the Test Purchasing operation and was able to buy alcohol without being questioned at six premises. The Test Purchasers who are 14-16 year olds assist Norfolk Trading Standards to check that businesses aren’t selling age restricted goods to underage people.
In total, 22 premises were targeted over three days which resulted in six sales to a 15-year-old volunteer. This represents a 27% sale rate. In each case the seller was issued with an £80 fine, and interviewed by officers from Norfolk Constabulary for selling alcohol to children.
Four sales were made from off-licensed premises and two sales from on-licensed premises within the Easter Holidays. The premises targeted were across five district councils in Norfolk including King’s Lynn & West Norfolk. The licensed premises were targeted based on intelligence fed to Norfolk Constabulary and Norfolk Trading Standards.
Investigations are continuing against the owners of the alcohol in each case. The maximum penalty for this offence is a £5,000 fine and can also include revocation of the licence to sell alcohol.
Duncan Harris, Senior Trading Standards Officer at Norfolk County Council, said: “Selling alcohol to underage children is a serious offence and we are extremely disappointed that a number of business premises were caught doing this.
“We conduct regular tests of retailers of alcohol in Norfolk using people who are under 18 years old. There is no excuse for not asking for identification and we advise all retailers to ask for ID from everyone who looks under 25.
“This is a reminder that retailers are the last line of protection to stop young people getting their hands on alcohol and some premises continue to serve people under 18 years old. In each case where a sale was made the young volunteer was not asked for ID and was served alcohol.”
Inspector Ed Brown from Norfolk Constabulary, said: “The failed test purchases are a concern, particularly those occurring in on-licensed premises where there were additional safeguards available for the licensee, including door supervisors.
“It demonstrates that the intelligence led approach of police and trading standards is effective in targeting those premises which are breaking the law. Underage alcohol sales are linked to increased levels of anti-social behaviour and criminality as well as bringing increased risks of harm to young people.”
Should anyone know of shops selling alcohol or other products to persons under the age of 18 please report this to the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 04 05 06.