Industry agreement on how to tackle underage drinking has hit a snag as it seems that police chiefs will push for the use of fake IDs in test purchasing stings.
At a recent meeting of the Retail Standards Group, attended by the Home Office and Trading Standards, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) stated that it was in favour of using fake ID documents in order to better recreate how youngsters attempt to buy alcohol. ACPO has now withdrawn its support from local government advisory board Lacors' guide to test purchasing, as it feels it is too soft on the subject of fake ID use.
Association of Convenience Stores public affairs director James Lowman revealed he had seen written comments from ACPO representatives and told C-Store: "The Lacors guidance was agreed after lengthy consultation but it does seem as though ACPO has come along and thrown a spanner in the works. Having said that, while we will continue to fight on these issues, retailers shouldn't be looking for excuses and must have the right policies in place.
"We need to keep showing that the off-trade is responsible and improving levels of test purchase failures. Every retailer should be prepared for a test purchase visit."
Meanwhile, the latest stage of the Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaign (AMEC) has come to a close. During the month-long campaign more than 5,000 test purchase operations were carried out by trading standards and licensing officers.
Individual police forces and trading standards officers have released initial figures from the fourth round of AMEC. Fixed-penalty notices were handed out in the Leicestershire town of Hinckley after six out of seven off-licences targeted sold alcohol to underage drinkers.
A sting operation in Bridgend, South Wales, tested 20 premises, of which five failed and were fined £80. Elsewhere, more than a third of premises targeted in Lincolnshire failed underage tests. Police and trading standards officials were disappointed that more than 30 of the 80 tested premises in the county served alcohol to an underage test purchaser.
The Home Office recently released data which shows 96% of 16- to 17-year-olds attempting to buy alcohol from shops have been successful at least once. Figures from the survey also reveal that 47% of the age group had attempted to buy alcohol from shops in the previous 12 months.