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Gloucestershire Business News

Under-age sales: police net two off-licences

A test run to root out dodgy off-licences willing to sell alcohol to under-age buyers caught two businesses red-handed in Gloucester and Tewkesbury.

Police say officers from their licensing team took part in test purchasing last Saturday where a teenager attempted to buy alcohol from eight off-licences spread across Gloucester, Tewkesbury and Cheltenham.

A spokesman told Punchline: "Police cadet volunteers were used for this operation and were chaperoned by undercover officers for safety purposes."

Retail premises in Gloucester and Tewkesbury that failed the test were among eight that the team visited.

"The two shops allowed the 14-year-old test purchaser to buy booze and therefore failed. The other six off-licences refused to sell alcohol to the child.

"As part of the operation, the test purchaser is always careful not to lie about their age and does not produce any ID if asked."

Under the Licensing Act, alcohol vendors must 'prevent children coming to harm' and police enforce any breaches through education, letters or warnings, tickets or taking the premise to review in certain circumstances.

Police added that the offending premises were immediately notified and would be sent official warnings, with local authorities also being notified and the offending businesses being made subject to repeat visits.

The maximum fine for selling or supplying alcohol to children is £5,000, while personal licences can be suspended or forfeited on a first offence. The fine increases to £20,000 for persistently sales of alcohol to children. As an alternative, the premises may be prevented from selling alcohol for a period of 48 hours to two weeks.

● Earlier this year, Gloucestershire Constabulary conducted a similar test of licenced premises in the Stroud and Dursley area, using a 16-year-old who was accompanied by two police officers in plain clothes to observe the test.

Again, six venues passed and two failed - one being an off-licence and one a pub.

Sgt Garrett Gloyn, of Stroud Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: "We choose our test purchaser carefully in order to make the test fair, so we don't use great big lads with fully grown beards!"

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