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Published on November 17th, 2010 | by Dean Carr

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Five Pubs Serve 14 Year Old In Test

Pubs on the Isle of Wight are being warned that underage alcohol sales will not be tolerated following a recent change in the law.

Test purchase operations were carried out on a Monday evening in October when five out of six premises failed during visits by an approved teenage volunteer.

A 14-year-old girl was chosen in line with strict national guidelines to ensure fair tests. Only one pub took correct action and refused to sell to her.

Age verification required
A legal requirement for all premises licensed to sell alcohol to have an ‘age verification’ policy came into force at the start of October 2010.

The policy means anyone who appears under 18 to staff or a licensee must produce on request identification bearing their photograph, date of birth and a holographic mark, before they can be served alcohol. Premises were not legally compelled to ask for identification before October 1, 2010.

Fines for those who failed test
In each of the five failures on the Island during October, an £80 fixed penalty notice was given to the person who made the illegal sale. The licensed premises that were caught also face the prospect of further police action in order to raise standards.

When illegal sales are made, licensees can be prosecuted and face fines of up to £5,000. Depending on the circumstances, an overall premises licence can be recommended for review.

Worrying failure
Isle of Wight Police Licensing Sergeant Mark Voller said: “Given that licensees were warned in advance about the new law and the latest test purchases, it is worrying that a young person was able to purchase alcohol at five local premises on a Monday evening.

“Most Island licensees sell alcohol responsibly and legally, but police are determined to target those with a slack approach. All the test purchase failures could have been avoided if documentary proof of age had been required. It is vital that staff conduct these checks as a matter of routine.

“By refusing to sell alcohol to anyone underage, or who is becoming disorderly or drunk, licensees can help prevent crime and disorder. Such action not only makes pubs and clubs safer for customers and staff, but benefits the wider community, where alcohol-related disorder may be a policing priority for the public.”

CAMRA Condemn underage sales of alcohol in pubs
Chairman of the Isle of Wight branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) John Nicholson said: “CAMRA fully support the upholding of the law, and condemn the irresponsible sale of alcohol in any situation, whether it be at below cost off-sales, illegal sales to minors or to drunks, in any circumstance.”

Chair of Isle of Wight Pubwatch Stuart Luke said: “Pubwatch supports the test purchasing initiative. It is a licensees’ responsibility to refuse to sell alcohol to anyone who is underage, and this is an obligation under the licence. If premises claim to check for proof of age they should abide by their own policy.”

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About the Author

Dean Carr

Dean has been involved in alcohol licensing for over 20 years and has helped many independent retailers and corporate clients obtain a licence to sell alcohol or offer late night refreshment, regulated entertainment from all sorts of premises. Dean writes articles for various trade related blogs and is currently Managing Director of the PLT group of companies who run APLH and SCPLH personal alcohol licence courses nationwide. You can contact Dean or a member of his expert licensing team on: 01242 222 188



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