The proposed Mandatory Alcohol Code of Practice has been labelled "confusing" and "draconian" by the ACS in a meeting with the All Party Parliamentary Retail Group.

ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan met the group to air concerns over the confusion 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 activity is due in part to the growing experience of using the tools and approach enshrined in the Licensing Act. The introduction of a new layer of bureaucracy at this stage is unnecessary and confusing."

He also addressed discrepancies within the Code. "Under one proposal, it would become an offence punishable by six months in prison and a £20,000 fine to not use a Challenge 21 policy. This is 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.