By IH 14/05 Updated: 15/05 14:23
SHOPS and off-licences in the borough persistently selling alcohol to children face losing their licence.
Warwickshire Trading Standards and police can now stop businesses selling alcohol for up to two weeks if the retailer makes two or more sales of alcohol to under 18s in a three month period.
For many stores which rely wholly on the sale of alcohol for their profits, such as off-licenses, preventing a retailer from selling beer, wine and spirits could have a major impact on a business – effectively closing it for trade.
It follows the latest undercover test purchase exercise in Rugby. Six alcohol test purchases were attempted by a 15-year-old volunteer, and three sales made.
The new powers offer trading standards officers the opportunity to take quick and decisive action against problem businesses, while still allowing officers to pursue a full prosecution in particular serious cases.
Warwickshire County Councillor community safety spokesman Coun Richard Hobbs said: “Most retailers understand the problems caused by under-age drinking, to the health of young people and in terms of anti-social behaviour in the community.”
“They take their responsibilities seriously and ensure that children and young people cannot buy alcohol.”
“However, there remains a small minority who despite education, support and warnings, continue to sell to under 18’s. This new power will help us to take quick and decisive action against them which will have an effect not only on their alcohol sales, but their entire business.”
Investigations by Warwickshire Trading Standards following the Rugby test purchase exercise are on-going.
The offence of persistently selling alcohol to children now carries a maximum fine of £20,000 - raised from
£10,000 - and following conviction, a Magistrates court could suspend the retailers licence to sell alcohol for up to three months.
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