The Sale of Alcohol to Underage Youngsters
Posted: 04/01/2007 19:27:47
A full scale policing operation across Horncastle and surrounding villages, aimed at checking that on and off licenses are not selling alcohol to underage youngsters, was carried out last night.
Operation Ferment involved five officers from local Neighbourhood Policing Teams. Two Police Cadets, a 15 year old girl and a 16 year old girl, visited nine off licenses and two on licenses or public houses across Horncastle, Wragby, Tattershall and Coningsby where attempts were made to buy alcoholic drinks. The two cadets were accompanied by plain clothed officers, to ensure their safety and to act as witnesses. Out of the eleven outlets visited, six failed to comply with legislation, selling alcohol to the test purchase operators. Five outlets complied with legislation, challenging the youngsters for proof of identity.
The operation was carried out following growing concerns from the community about young people drinking alcohol in public areas and an increase in related anti-social behaviour. In Horncastle, reports of youngsters congregating in the Market Place have caused increasing concern and officers from the town’s Neighbourhood Policing Team felt it was time to take positive action.
“The primary aim of Operation Ferment was to target stores in areas where we know young people under the legal age of eighteen are getting hold of alcohol,” said Inspector Jason Kwee who is responsible for policing the area. “It was also important to remind licensees of our commitment to keeping the area safe for everyone and ensure they are aware of the important part they play in helping us achieve this.”
Inspector Kwee continued, “Much, but not all, of what we do is reacting to concerns voiced by the local community. One concern that has been consistently raised this year has been youngsters drinking alcohol in public places, leading to incidents of anti-social behaviour, verbal abuse and loutishness. Because of this, we felt there was a need to take action,” he said.
The results were extremely disappointing, with more outlets failing to ask for proof of identity than those which refused.
Speaking about the results, Inspector Jason Kwee said, “We are obviously very disappointed with these results, although feedback from staff during the operation was positive, so we are encouraged that lessons have been learnt. The results do, however, illustrate to us that we still have some way to go to get all licensees to take responsibility for training their staff in dealing with young people attempting to purchase alcohol. Although it is legal to buy alcohol from the age of eighteen, anyone who looks under the aged of twenty one and is attempting to buy alcohol should be asked to provide proof of identity,” he said.
Inspector Kwee continued, “Its important to praise the licensees and five members of staff who asked for proof of identity. In order to comply with legislation, anyone looking under twenty-one years should be asked for proof of age. If they cannot provide any identification, then they should not be sold alcohol.”
Further action is being considered on those outlets failing to comply with legislation, including following up visits by East Lindsey District Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Officer and Sector Inspector, Jason Kwee. Those members of staff who failed to challenge the test purchase operators for proof of identity were issued with an £80 Fixed Penalty Notice.
Inspector Kwee concluded by saying, “We all have a part to play in tackling underage drinking which more often than not ends in alcohol-related anti-social behaviour and this includes licensees, parents, teachers, the local authority and the Police. For us, carrying out test purchase operations is one of a number of ways we are working to combat the problem and we will continue to run similar operations until licensees take their responsibilities seriously. More operations like this are planned.”
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