Published on December 18th, 2012 | by Dean Carr
What is a test purchase?
A test purchase is a way of checking if the staff in a licensed premises are carrying out an age verification policy to prevent underage sales. For the duration of a test purchase, people under the age of 18 are authorised to enter a licensed premises and attempt to buy alcohol. The children are supervised by plain clothes operatives, who may enter the premises or wait outside. The police force or Trading Standards have the power to authorise a test purchase.
If a premises fails a test purchase, its staff will be interviewed by the police and may receive on the spot fines of £80. If prosecuted in a Magistrates’ Court, a licence holder may be fined up to £5,000. The maximum penalty for persistently selling alcohol to children, meanwhile, has recently risen to £20,000 and/or six months imprisonment.
An age verification policy is a legal obligation in licensed premises and the only way to prevent underage sales. At AlcoholLicence, we recommend the Challenge 25 age verification policy over the Challenge 21 scheme. In Scotland, a 25 scheme is the mandatory policy.
Test Purchases Failed
Two convenience store owners in Harrow have been fined for selling alcohol to teenagers after failing test purchases. The underage volunteers worked under the instruction and supervision of officers from Brent and Harrow Trading Standards and were sold two bottles of Budweiser lager at his Kenton Food and Wine business, in Kenton Lane, Harrow.
A large scale test purchasing operation has targeted 56 licensed premises in Leicester. Staff in fourteen businesses sold alcohol to the three teenagers- two girls aged 16 and a boy aged 15. The test purchases took place as part of a police operation, with the teenagers supervised by plain clothes officers. The staff incriminated will be interviewed by police.
Two pubs in Chesterfield have received 48 hour closure orders after failing test purchases. The Royal Oak and Joplins were found to have sold alcohol to children on two occasions in a three-month period. The test purchases were carried out by Derbyshire police and Derbyshire Trading Standards.
Buying alcohol for under-age drinkers.
Adults should remember that it is an offence to buy alcohol for under-age drinkers.
A campaign has been launched in Middlesbrough to alert adults to the dangers of buying alcohol for under-age drinkers. Middlesbrough Council is working hand-in-hand with local off-licences to promote the responsible sale and consumption of alcohol. Carrier bags highlighting the issue will be given out to customers across the town over the coming weeks.