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Trading Standards Undercover Alcohol Operation Leads to First Fixed Penalty Notice Issued to Shop Assistant

Shop assistants who sell alcohol to children now face receiving an £80 fixed penalty fine Warwickshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service has announced.

With the assistance of Warwickshire Police, Trading Standards Officers visited six shops in Warwick, Whitnash and Kenilworth in July. A male child volunteer aged 15 was asked to attempt to purchase an alcoholic drink from each shop.

Only one sale was made, from a shop in Warwick and the shop assistant
received an immdediate £80 fixed penalty notice. The notice was issued by a Police Officer acting on evidence supplied by Trading Standards Officers who witnessed the illegal sale.

Mark Ryder, Head of Warwickshire Trading Standards Service said:

“We have done a lot of work already to educate shop owners and their staff on what they can do to stop the sale of alcohol to a child and I commend the majority of retailers who are taking their responsibilities seriously.

However, it is clear that some shops are still not asking for ID and I now hope that if shop assistants know that they could face an £80 fine for selling alcohol to a minor, that this will further prompt them to ask for proof of age.

Previously we only had two options open to us to deal with someone who had sold alcohol to a child, either to warn them, or to carry out a full-scale criminal prosecution. Fixed penalty notices provide us with a third option which we will use appropriately and in conjunction with the other enforcement measures we have available to us.

The illegal sale of alcohol to children is a contributory factor to nuisance youth crime. Warwickshire Trading Standards is playing its part in combating this issue.”

Chief Inspector Richard Long, Warwick District Commander said:

"Underage drinking causes significant problems ranging from rowdy, nuisance behaviour and petty crime through to more serious offences of violence and affray.  It’s important we continue to work with our partners in Trading Standards and other agencies to educate those who sell alcohol. If you don’t ask for proof of age you face a hefty fine or losing your licence to sell alcohol".

The issuing of a fixed penalty notice against a shop assistant does not preclude the service from prosecuting the business, or the licensee.

Anyone issued with a fixed penalty notice has 21 days in which they can challenge it.

For more information on age restricted sales and proof of age cards,
visit our website: http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards