Suffolk: 40% Fail Alcohol Age Limit Tests

1 January 2014, 08:10 | Updated: 1 January 2014, 08:20

Forty percent of places in Suffolk that serve alcohol failed in secret tests according to new figures.

It’s part of an ongoing campaign by Suffolk County Council Trading Standards, Suffolk Police and Licensing Authorities, set up to tackle alcohol sales to underage young people.

It has led to concerns that licensees are continuing to sell alcohol to underage young people.

The campaign involves 14 to 17 year old volunteers carrying out test purchases from businesses who sell age restricted products and where intelligence has been received suggesting that the business may not be complying with the law.

This figure comes only a few weeks after the successful prosecution of a public house in Trimley St Martin for persistently selling alcohol to underaged people.

A initial test purchase took place at The Three Mariners in February 2013, following intelligence received that alcohol was being sold to under 18s. Alcohol was sold to 16 and 17 year olds by the Landlord who was issued with an £80 on the spot fine and received advice from Trading Standards.

A follow-up test purchase carried out in May 2013 resulted in alcohol again being sold to two 17 year old volunteers without any challenge for ID.  Following these sales, a licensing sub committee revoked the premises’ licence. Due to the seriousness of two sales, the Licensees were both prosecuted for persistently selling alcohol. Both pleaded guilty. One was fined £577 plus a £20 victim charges and had their personal licence revoked. The other received a conditional discharge for one year and was ordered to pay £15 victim charges and £200 costs. The second licensee also had their personal licence suspended for a period of 6 months.

Suffolk Trading Standards offers advice, guidance and support to any Suffolk businesses that sell age restricted products to ensure that traders have procedures and resources in place to prevent sales to underage children.

Councillor Colin Spence, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for public protection, said:

“These figures are concerning but also demonstrate that the campaign using the intelligence we receive and is targeting the right premises.

“The Three Mariners case demonstrates that through on the spot fines, licence reviews and prosecution, any premises which continues to sell alcohol to under 18s, despite the advice given, will face appropriate but robust enforcement action.”

Trading Standards & Suffolk Police are urging licensees to be particularly vigilant for under 18s attempting to buy alcohol.