I heard the ex-info commissioner being interviewed on Radio 4 the other day. He said he was "sick" of people using the Data Protection Act to avoid doing their job properly. For a short time he became my favourite (ex) official.

Now here comes Lord Young, with the longest title he has ever had advisor to the PM on elf 'n' safety and the compensation culture. So, hopefully, goodbye to bonkers rules about wearing goggles to play conkers (that actually was an urban myth but it's what you wind up with if you establish this blame-and-risk adverse culture. Ten years ago there were 6,000 elf 'n' safety officials. Now there are 37,000.)

Now, wouldn't it be good if 'they' decide it would be okay to give underaged booze buyers a clip round the ear? Especially those sent in by trading standards.

Meanwhile, ACS thinks it may have headed off the next licensing constraint: the one due to come in on October 1 that says you must put an age-verification policy in place. This means you have to put your staff through challenge training and insist on ID (now scrapped for the man on the street).

I am indebted to Chris Mitchener for an explanation. Chris is one of our C-Store Champion retailers (see p21) and also runs Licensing Solutions, which can help offie retailers in any number of ways (tel: 07831 159450). He says: "An age-verification policy is met by having a challenge policy, be it Challenge 21, 25 or even 30, but a full training regime is the real answer. Even if the new conditions are dropped from the legislative calendar, you should still have a full training regime in place to protect yourself."

It's available free from Licensing Solutions and Chris also has a leaflet designed to help staff avoid confrontation when refusing sales. Give him a call.

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