The drive to stop adults buying alcoholic drinks for children isn’t always at the top of the police’s agenda, perhaps because it takes time and rescources to achieve a prosecution.
That’s why it’s particularly encouraging to hear of a groundbreaking partnership between Scottish c-store chain Botterills and Strathclyde police, which is making the public aware of the dangers of proxy (or agent) purchasing, and reminding them that it is against the law.
For three months this summer, all Botterills staff across the group’s 52 stores will wear T-shirts bearing the slogan “Stop: buying alcohol for people under 18 is against the law. It can result in a fine of up to £5,000, three months in jail, or both.”
Advertising, point of sale material and till receipt messages will also communicate this key message.
Botterills operations director Brian Straiton says: “Agent purchasing is increasing, and increases the instances of crime and anti-social behaviour perpetrated by persons under the age of 18 who are under the influence of alcohol. This situation, from both a retailer and police perspective, is one that we really want to stamp out.
“The project aims to help reduce alcohol-related disorder in our local communities by stopping alcohol getting into the wrong hands and making people aware of the consequences of such purchases in terms of the impact on local communities.”
Botterills has gone beyond simply publicising the consequences, however, and has encouraged its staff to make positive efforts to identify those who buy for children and, with the help of the police, see that they are taken to task.
“The police have been very supportive when our staff have reported incidents relating to agent purchases and as well as the police charging the individuals, we have sent letters informing them that they are also no longer welcome in our stores,” says Straiton. “I hope that this makes people think twice and act responsibly when asked by youngsters to buy alcohol for them.”
Chief superintendent Tim Love of Strathclyde Police says he is impressed with Botterills’ initiative and enthusiasm for bringing about a cultural change. “This is an excellent initiative which is being introduced by Botterills and hopefully it will greatly assist their staff to target agent purchasers,” he says.
What we’re calling for:
● Government to accept that adults are the main route of supply to children and for it to introduce measures to dissuade them from buying
● Enforcement of prosecution of convicted proxy purchasers of age-restricted goods
● Investment in community schemes to educate the public on the social costs of supplying age-restricted products to children.
What you can do:
● Contact your local authority or police liaison officer and explain to them how a proxy crackdown would reduce youth drinking and social disorder in your area
● Demonstrate your responsible approach to selling alcohol with a Challenge 25 policy, keep an up-to-date refusals register and carry out ongoing staff training
● Volunteer your knowledge of the local community - including CCTV footage - to help prosecute adults who buy for children.