The number of entries made in a retailer’s Refusals Register should not be counted as a culpability factor when judges pass sentence for alcohol offences.
The House of Commons Justice Committee made the recommendation to the Sentencing Council, following a consultation on sentencing earlier this year.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) welcomed the news, saying that a low number of entries in a refusals book was not necessarily an indicator of irresponsible retailing.
A small number of entries in a refusals register could in fact indicate that a store had a robust age verification procedure in place, resulting in fewer attempts by those underage to purchase alcohol, the ACS submission said.
Acknowledging the ACS’ submission, the Justice Committee’s report said: “In particular some respondents questioned whether this would be prejudicial to organisations who have a low turnover of alcohol sales, or who are known to have robust policies in place.
“We are not convinced a local licensing authority will necessarily have enough information about premises to make an informed determination of whether the number of entries in the refusal log should lead to heightened or lowered culpability.
“We recommend the Sentencing Council removes this as a factor for both higher and lower culpability,” the report concluded.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Alcohol is an important category for the convenience sector and retailers take their responsibilities in preventing the sale of alcohol to those underage or intoxicated very seriously.
“We are pleased that the Justice Committee have listened to our concerns on the inclusion of refusals logs as a culpability factor, and will continue to work with the Sentencing Council to ensure that sentencing for alcohol offences is fair and proportionate.”