Businesses investigated after selling alcohol to children

Date published: 19 February 2019

Pubs, bars and clubs are being warned that underage drinking will not be tolerated after three premises were caught serving alcohol to under-18s. 

Ten licensed premises across the borough were targeted as part of a test purchasing exercise earlier this month, which saw 14 and 15-year-old volunteers attempting to buy alcohol in licensed premises. Some of premises were chosen for testing due to allegations that underage sales were taking place or because they had previously conducted underage sales. 

The test purchases, conducted by Rochdale Borough Council’s trading standards team, found that the underage volunteers were able to purchase alcohol from three of the ten premises tested. 

Two of the three asked the children for identification and after being told they didn’t have any, continued to service the alcohol. One child was served without being asked to produce identification. 

Councillor Sara Rowbotham, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “Underage drinking is an issue we take very seriously as it puts the health, wellbeing and safety of the borough’s young people at risk. 

“The illegal and irresponsible sale of alcohol to underage children will not be tolerated and we will not hesitate to take action against those who break the law.” 

Full investigations will now be conducted into the three premises and appropriate action will be taken. This could mean the premises receive warnings, cautions, prosecutions or licence reviews, depending on their previous history and other intelligence. 

The test purchasing exercise was part of a council crackdown on underage sales. The council regularly tests licensed premises and retail outlets to prevent dangerous age-restricted products such as alcohol, tobacco and knives being sold to children. 

The council advises businesses to operate a Challenge 25 policy, which means asking for photographic identification from anyone who appears to be under 25. Once asked to produce identification, a sale should only be made once a customer proves they are over 18. 

Residents with concerns about any suspected supply of alcohol, tobacco or other age-restricted products to children should report it via the confidential Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.

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