SEAFORD: Off-licence caught out in underage drink sting

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AN OFF-LICENCE in Seaford sold alcohol to an underage youngster in a police operation.

A series of test purchases at stores were carried out in the town and in Peacehaven. During the operation, five premises were tested using trained underage volunteers.

Three of the premises passed with no sales of alcohol made to under 18s and identification was asked for on each occasion.

However, an off-licence in Seaford and another in Peacehaven failed.

In the event of any failed tests, shopkeepers are given an on-the-spot fine or reported for summons for selling or permitting the sale of alcohol to a person under 18 years of age.

Representatives of the premises are also required to meet the local neighbourhood policing inspector and licensing officer and asked to implement a range of measures aimed at addressing the problem.

In the event of a string of failed tests relating to a particular venue it is possible for an application to the local authority for a review of the premises licence.

This can lead to a variation on operating conditions being implemented to the revocation of the off-licence.

Local Sussex police neighbourhood licensing officer PC Richard Wilkes, who conducted the test purchases, said, “Working alongside our partner agencies, throughout the past 20 months I have carried out a number of Test Purchase Operations at licensed premises across Lewes district.

“What is clear from these tests is that the incidents of sales of alcohol to persons under 18 years of age continues to fall and this is testament to our engagement with local licensees in getting the message across regarding sales of alcohol to minors and the impact this can have in our community.

“Nevertheless, we cannot become complacent as some of the problem has shifted towards proxy sales of alcohol. i.e. whereby adults are purchasing alcohol on behalf of those under 18 years of age.

“This is a growing concern along with minors obtaining alcohol from their home addresses either with or without their parents’ knowledge.

“The local police and partner agencies are continuing to focus their efforts in this regard with the main preventative strand being local awareness and education of both licensees and parents.”

Further test purchases are planned at off-licence premises in the area in early September 2011.

In the past few months in the Lewes district there has been very few reported incidents at licensed premises involving crime and disorder.