Four shops caught red-handed selling alcohol to children have been given a final warning and told they will lose their drinks licences if it happens again.
Sales staff in the four convenience stores were also fined after being caught in a trading standards led clampdown on under-age drinking in Wandsworth.
The joint trading standards and police operation used specially-trained young people to find out which shops were flouting licensing laws. The young people, who were kept under close supervision throughout, were instructed to enter the shops and attempt to buy alcohol.
One shop - Best One - of 246 Lavender Hill, Battersea, had its licence temporarily suspended for selling a 13-year-old boy a bottle of WKD. The person behind the counter, Mr Outar Kapoor, was given an £80 on-the-spot fine.
Another test purchase was carried out at the Kings Grocery store in Portswood Place, Roehampton, which resulted in two boys aged 14 and 15 being permitted to buy alcohol. The seller Mr Parimal Rabadia was issued with an £80 fixed penalty notice.
Two girls, aged 13 and 15, were also able to buy alcohol at Hudsons store in Putney’s Riverside Quarter in Point Pleasant. The seller, Miss Sachi Desai, was issued with an £80 penalty notice by the police.
And Mr Ata Ur Rehman, who was caught selling bottles of WKD to two girls aged 14 and 15 at the Best One store in Fairfield Street, Wandsworth, was also handed an £80 on-the-spot fine.
Councillors on the licensing committee have now ordered a major tightening up of controls at the four stores to ensure no other young people are sold alcohol.
New conditions have been imposed on all four requiring them to:
· Introduce a ‘Challenge 25’ policy, supported with signage at the entrance and serving areas, so that young people who look under 25 must be challenged to prove they are over 18. Only documents which include a photograph of the buyer will be acceptable.
· Maintain a refusal book that outlines details every time the sale of alcohol is refused, to show that staff are being suitably vigilant.
· Conduct in-depth training of all staff before they are allowed to sell any alcohol to the public, and ensure they undergo regular refresher courses. Records must also be kept showing the nature and level of training.
Licensing chairman Cllr Martin D Johnson said: “These four shops are extremely lucky to still have their licences. If there are any further transgressions involving these premises then it is difficult to see how they could continue to hold the trusted position of being allowed to sell alcohol.
“The council’s trading standards team regularly conducts these kinds of operations with the support of the police to make sure that we are doing all we can to keep alcohol out of the hands of young people.
“We know that drinking at an early age can lead to a lifetime of health problems and of course it is obviously a direct cause of crime and anti-social behaviour.
“Shopkeepers who sell alcohol need to show responsibility and play their part in tackling the problem of under-age drinking. Those who fail this important test should be under no illusion about the penalties they will face.”
It is illegal for a shop to sell alcohol, tobacco, fireworks, knives and solvents to anyone under the age of 18. Anyone buying an aerosol paint spray must be at least 16-years-old.
Anyone with information or concerns about items being unlawfully sold to children should call trading standards on (020) 8871 7720 or email mailto:email@example.com
April 8th, 2011