Shops sold booze to youngsters
PUBLISHED: 09:28 06 November 2008 | UPDATED: 14:09 10 May 2010
LICENSED premises in Saffron Walden have been caught illegally selling alcohol to youngsters, fuelling the problem of underage drinking, an investigation has revealed. Essex County Council (ECC) Trading Standards carried out a series of test purchases of
LICENSED premises in Saffron Walden have been caught illegally selling alcohol to youngsters, fuelling the problem of underage drinking, an investigation has revealed.
Essex County Council (ECC) Trading Standards carried out a series of test purchases of alcohol at retailers in the town last Wednesday (October 29).
Out of the six shops that were tested, ranging from small independent retailers to large multinational stores, two made illegal sales to a minor.
A spokesman for ECC said he was disappointed with the results and described underage alcohol sales as "simply unacceptable".
"Each of the shops that failed a test purchase will be retested in the near future, and ECC will take action if results do not improve. Our aim is to keep communities safe and protect the health of young people, and we will not hesitate to seek prosecution or licence reviews if shops jeopardise this by ignoring our warnings."
Trading Standards refused to name the offending retailers, but said they would be made public if they failed on a second occasion.
Both of the premises that failed the test were issued with a fixed penalty notice and warned about their future conduct.
Antisocial behaviour coordinator for Uttlesford District Council, Fiona Gardiner, said a lot of work was being done by the crime and disorder reduction partnership to tackle underage drinking, but shops that sold alcohol to minors did not make her job any easier.
"It is disappointing that two premises failed the test, but we will work with Trading Standards and the police to resolve the issue. In most cases it's a matter of education." she said.
"Underage drinking is not a huge problem in the town, but there are pockets where it can be found. As part of an on-going operation we have been out with the police in the evenings to talk to youngsters about the dangers of drinking and confiscate alcohol."
The shops targeted by Trading Standards were chosen on the basis of intelligence received from Saffron Walden Police Station.
The underage volunteers used to make the test purchases were supervised by officers throughout the process. They were not made to look any older than they were, and did not lie about their age when challenged.
The issue of underage drinking was made one of the priorities at the Saffron Walden Police Neighbourhood Action Panel meeting held last Wednesday.