The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has advised the government to tackle the sources of alcohol-related harm rather than introduce new legislation which could put small stores at a disadvantage.

Giving evidence to MPs as part of the Committee Hearings scrutinising the Police and Crime Bill, which will create new alcohol-related penalties for shops and individuals, ACS director of public affairs Shane Brennan questioned the need for further regulation to improve standards among alcohol retailers.

He told MPs that the government’s own predictions of job losses and small business closures were ‘alarming’. “It is very worrying that the government is predicting that the measures it is proposing under the new legislation could lead to business closures,” he said.

“We urge government not to rush to conclusions and impose new regulations that may have perverse and negative outcomes on responsible businesses. The issue is about dealing with alcohol-related harm.”

Brennan was also questioned about underage drinking. He said: “There need to be consequences for young people’s actions. Our members are very aware of the implications of doing wrong and selling to under-18s. There are six different ways in which you can be prosecuted for underage sales of alcohol and they may face significant penalties.

“However, while our members refuse to sell to those underage, there’s currently nothing to stop them going to the next shop down the road and trying again.”