Two fifths of Suffolk licences premises fail the test

Too many licensees in Suffolk continue to sell alcohol to under-age drinkers
Too many licensees in Suffolk continue to sell alcohol to under-age drinkers

Forty per cent of licensed premises visited since April as part of a crack down on the sale of alcohol to under 18s have failed test purchases, new figures have revealed.

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.

Trading Standards regularly offer this advice but would like to remind licensees of the following points to prevent underage sales:

Train your staff

Give regular reminders and updates. It is particularly important to train staff on techniques for refusing a sale. Keep written records, so you can demonstrate your staff have been correctly trained.

Ask for proof of age

Challenge 25

Operate a Challenge 25 scheme. This means if you think a person looks 25 years or younger, always request identification

Keep a refusals record

Display warning notices/posters

These are also useful deterrents for young people attempting to buy, as well as acting as a reminder for staff of the age limit.

Use till prompts

Prompts such as stickers on till points can act as a useful prompt for staff to check identification or seek authorisation from another member of staff.

‘No card no sale’

Implementing such a policy for age-restricted products can have a significant impact on underage sales. We advise the forms of ID are driving licence, passport or PASS approved card.

Ensure your door staff are trained on underage sales but remind bar staff that they shouldn’t solely rely on them having challenged customers for ID.

Staff are urged to be vigilant of adults purchasing alcohol on behalf of under 18’s. There is an offence for adults committing this offence and Trading Standards & Police conduct checks on this also.

Should anyone have intelligence on premises selling alcohol to under 18s they can report this anonymously via:

Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 04 05 06,, Facebook: SuffolkTradingStandards and Twitter: