Chris Mitchener of Licensing Solutions has some advice on how to retail responsibly during 2012

At Licensing Solutions, we believe that it should almost be a new year’s resolution to make sure that everything is set up for the rest of the year’s trading by checking the basics.

First, is everybody initially trained thoroughly? Is everybody authorised (to serve) in writing? Is refresher training on schedule?

It’s also of vital importance that each store is trading within the conditions on the licence regarding hours, CCTV, alarm and so on, and that it is operating a stated Age Verification Policy, such as Challenge 25, which staff understand. Is the Part B of the licence on display in the store with Part A available to view?

Now is an ideal time to look at how we as retailers can ensure that we have all the appropriate measures in place to avoid any problems during the year. Discuss with staff what will happen to them - and you - if underage sales occur. Have a strategy worked out as this heightens awareness to staff of the seriousness of them making a mistake, and raise this at each refresher training to remind them.

Schedule refresher training around peaks of increased danger of underage sales occuring - just before school holidays, Easter, clock changes in spring and autumn and next Christmas, rather than just every three or six months.

Maintain a ‘written authority to sell’ record and consider operating a monthly authority diary renewing the authority to sell on the first shift of each month of each member of staff. I can send you an example if you contact me using the details at the top of this column.

In addition, consider having a training week where all refresher training is done, regardless of when people joined or are due. It’s also worth considering having your own test purchasing carried out on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.

The other point to remember is to check everything. Check or audit your own operation and seek help if you feel it is lacking - free audit checklists are available from us.

Check CCTV weekly to watch how staff interface with those buying age-related products and highlight any issues as a training tool.

And, finally, carry out daily observations of staff serving and deal with issues as necessary. Keep a record of both in your incident book for due diligence purposes.