Shops plea in under-age booze crackdown

POLICE and trading standards officers are to launch an undercover operation targeting retailers who sell alcohol to under age youngsters - as binge drinking continues to blight town centre streets.

By Danielle Nuttall

POLICE and trading standards officers are to launch an undercover operation targeting retailers who sell alcohol to under age youngsters - as binge drinking continues to blight town centre streets.

A series of test purchases will be carried out throughout the year at premises in Suffolk in which police have received specific intelligence.

Those caught flouting the law risk losing their license or may face prosecution.


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The crackdown is part of a new written agreement between Suffolk County Council, the police and trading standards on how to deal with the illegal sale of alcohol to children in the county.

It follows the launch of a scheme last week, in which Suffolk Constabulary said it was making alcohol-related offences and violent crime its number one priority for the next six months.

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Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter said: “We want to catch licensees doing something right - not doing something wrong. So they need to know that if we catch them refusing our test purchasers we will congratulate them but if they break the law, legal action will swiftly follow.”

Towns across Suffolk have experienced problems associated with youngsters binge-drinking, including a rise in assaults and anti social behaviour.

Ch Insp Chris Mayhew, of Ipswich Police, said there had even been a slight increase in reports of sexual offences related to the problem.

“We have had some increase in some reports of sexual offences and some increases in reports of assaults. They're not vast increases by any means but there is an increase,” he said.

“Our biggest problems are 16-17 year olds. Also with girls, as they look a lot older than they are, they are getting into these sorts of establishments and drinking to excess.

“It's not running out of control but it's a problem we are targeting.

“A lot of it is youth nuisance and annoyance to either shopkeepers where they congregate or in more residential areas where they are causing low level damage or boisterous behaviour.

“It's a national problem and the government is pushing hard against binge drinking. They are trying to give us more powers to deal with this behaviour.”

Peter Monk, county councillor and portfolio holder for public protection, added: “Selling alcohol to young people is not only illegal but also irresponsible.

“Working with the police will ensure the joint enforcement powers of both agencies are more efficiently used. There are definite links between minors drinking alcohol and anti social behaviour. Together we will work to combat the problem”.

Trading standards officers will also be checking to see if retailers ask the age of young people wanting to purchase other items such as solvents, cigarettes, videos and knives.

Retailers should always double check the age of someone by asking to see a driving licence or proof of age card. If they are still in any doubt then they should refuse the sale.

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