Published on November 14th, 2011 | by Dean Carr
Scotland’s challenge Policy- should England & Wales follow?
Responsible alcohol retailing: what more can be done to help prevent unauthorised sales of alcohol to children? Member of Scottish Parliament were briefed recently on Scotland’s new ‘challenge 25’ age verification law at a special event in the Scottish Parliament.
Hosted by the Scottish Beer and Pub Association, and sponsored by Heineken UK, the event was held to inform politicians about the change, which came into force on October 1 under the Scottish Licensing Act (2005). The development means all licensed premises in Scotland must have an age verification policy in place that requires staff to ask anyone who looks under 25 for ID when attempting to buy alcohol.
Alcohol licence.org asks the question should England & Wales follow Scotland’s lead and introduce a blanket “Challenge 25 Policy” across the whole country. This would included Northern Ireland when their current licensing regime is reviewed in the future. A spokes person from Personal Licence Training Ltd said ” We currently advise all new retailers and personal licence holders that a Challenge 25 policy is the most sensible option as it can help prevent mistakes when serving alcohol to young people. We have even produced our own challenge 25 posters that we send out with each new personal licence we produce. All of the new premises licence applications that we prepare will included a challenge 25 policy in the licensing schedule and we have been preparing new licence application this way for over 18 months as we believe it helps prevent un-authorised sales of alcohol to minors.
Raising the age limit for alcohol sales in the UK would have a more damaging effect on the on licence trade as the trade has suffered badly from the recent smoking ban and increased competition from the major high street retailers. Another sensible option would be for England & Wales to follow Scotland’s lead on staff training in relation to alcohol sales, currently all staff serving or retailing alcohol in Scotland must have a minimum of two hours training on the licensing Act for Scotland. The ultimate goal has to be responsible alcohol retaining whether sales are made form on licence premises or from off licence premises.
We are currently developing a new responsible alcohol retailing course which also covers retailing other age restricted products such as knives and offensive weapons, solvents and cigarette products. We believe this new product will be invaluable to retailers and help prevent staff from making mistakes. The new course also covers in depth spotting fake identification and knowledge of acceptable forms of identification. The introduction of mandatory basic staff training to England and Wales could make retailing of alcohol safer as all staff would be aware of their duties and responsibilities concerning alcohol sales. Staff would also be more aware of the possible fines they could face for unauthorised sales to under age people or drunks
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