The proposed Mandatory Alcohol Code of Practice has been labelled as “confusing” and “draconian” by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) in a meeting with the All Party Parliamentary Retail Group.

ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan met with the group to air concerns over the confusion that the planned code could cause retailers. He said: “The challenges of preventing alcohol-related harm are being tackled in innovative ways in communities across the country. This growing activity is due in part to the growing experience of using the tools and approach enshrined in the Alcohol Localising Act. The introduction of a new layer of bureaucracy into the legislation at this stage is unnecessary and confusing.”

He also addressed discrepancies within the Code. “Under one proposal in the code, it would become an offence punishable by six months in prison and a £20,000 fine to not use underage sales prevention policy ‘Challenge 21’. This is a draconian penalty more severe than the penalty for committing the offence of selling alcohol to a child.”

The ACS is currently drafting its formal response to the Code, which is out for consultation until August 5.