Proxy sales facts

The number of adults buying alcohol for underage drinkers is on the rise - see some worrying facts below.

  • Proxy sales (where adults purchase alcohol on behalf of an underage person) are currently 20%. Purchases made by young people from off and on licensed (hotels and pubs) premises are 7% and 4% respectively.1
  • Under the provisions of the Licensing Act 2003, it is an offence for people under 18 years old to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol. It is also an offence for anyone to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol for someone under 18 years old in a public place.
  • Adults caught buying alcohol for people under 18 can be handed an £80 spot fine, or fined up to £5,000 if prosecuted in a court of law.
  • According to Department of Health statistics 36% of all crimes committed by people under the age of 18 take place while the perpetrator is under the influence of alcohol.
  • Young people who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who start drinking at 21.2
  • A recent Drinkaware YouGov poll showed over a third of 16-17 year olds would prefer to get the facts about alcohol direct from their parents.
  • Alcohol plays a big part in antisocial behaviour, crime and violence. A Home Office survey found that one in five (18%) 12-13 year olds and over a quarter (28%) of 14-15 year olds caused damage while drinking, while one in 10 (10%) 15-16 year olds said that drinking had led them to get in trouble with the police. 3
  • Spotting a proxy sale; be aware of groups of young people congregating outside a store approaching members of the public who then enter the store; if an adult re-enters a store just to buy alcohol after they have left.
  • Responsible retailers will; adopt a policy not to sell alcohol when there is doubt; display statutory signs and deterrent posters; comply with the spirit and the letter of the law; work with enforcement agencies and make them aware of suspected sources and keep a record of refusals. 



  1. Statistics on Alcohol: England 2008, The NHS Information Centre
  2. Grant, B.F., & Dawson, D. A. (1997). Age at Onset of Alcohol Use and its Association with DSM-IV Alcohol Abuse and Dependence: Results from the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey. Journal of Substance Abuse, vol. 9, p. 103-110.
  3. Home Office 2004, Underage drinking: findings from the 2004 Offending, Crime and Justice Survey,