Alcohol licenses could be taken off shops in Rugby which continue to sell booze to children

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BUSINESSES that persistently sell alcoholic drinks to children could lose their license in a matter of a few short weeks, thanks to new powers given to Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service.

Trading Standards Officers and the police can now stop businesses selling alcohol for up to two weeks where the retailer is found to have made two or more sales of alcohol to children in a three month period.

For many stores that rely wholly or predominately on the sale of alcohol for their profits, such as off-licenses, preventing a retailer from selling alcohol can often have a significant effect upon a business – effectively closing it for trade.

These new powers offer Trading Standards Services the opportunity to take quick and decisive action against problem businesses, whilst still allowing Officers to take a full prosecution if a business transgressed further.

Warwickshire County Councillor Richard Hobbs, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety 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.”

In the latest undercover test purchase exercise, 17 alcohol retailers were visited across North Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth and Rugby. Four sales of alcohol were made to

15 year old child volunteers.

· Nuneaton and Bedworth and North Warwickshire: 11 alcohol test purchases attempted and one sale made (in North Warwickshire).

· Rugby: six alcohol test purchases attempted and three sales made.

Businesses that were suspected of selling alcohol to children were targeted. Warwickshire Trading Standards uses information and intelligence gathered from local communities to target problem businesses.

Investigations by Warwickshire Trading Standards Service are now on-going.

· A recent survey has revealed that 20 per cent of 13-year-olds drink alcohol at least once a week. In 2009, the Chief Medical Officer advised that under-15s should not be drinking alcohol at all.

· Alcohol misuse is a major public health problem, placing a heavy burden on society, and affecting a large number of individuals of all ages.

· A new national alcohol strategy was published in March 2012.

· In Warwickshire, alcohol is key public health priority having featured in the Director of Public Health’s annual report of 2011; it is a cross-cutting priority for all four Community Safety Partnerships; and there is Warwickshire wide alcohol implementation plan supported by all key stakeholders.

Under 18?

Contact Compass Warwickshire for drug and alcohol advice, information and specialist treatment on freephone 08000 88

72 48. The service is available between the hours of 9am and 5pm. Please leave a message if your call isn’t answered – someone will get back to you.

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