Retailers in Leith, Edinburgh, are helping to drive a new partnership initiative to tackle the problem of alcohol proxy purchasing.

As part of the ‘You’re Asking for It’ campaign, local retailers are working alongside Police Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council to show shoppers the risks and penalties of buying alcohol for under 18s.

The campaign has been developed by the Scottish Alcohol Industry Partnership (SAIP) and follows on from a successful campaign in North Lanarkshire in 2015.

Campaign packs have been delivered to every licensed retail premises in the area and stores are displaying posters and leaflets in prominent positions as well as talking to shoppers about the risks.

During the campaign, a giant digital advertising screen will be on display on Leith Walk, one of Edinburgh’s busiest thoroughfares, warning the public about the seriousness of the crime if they are found to be involved in proxy purchasing. Consumers found guilty of the offence face fines of up to £5,000 and jail time.

In addition to raising awareness, the campaign also looks to encourage communities to come forward and report proxy purchasing and to give confidence to shop staff to challenge anyone they suspect of buying alcohol for underage drinkers.

John Lee, head of public affairs at the Scottish Grocers Federation and chair of SAIP, said: “Responsible retailing and initiatives such as Challenge 25 have significantly helped reduce the number of direct sales of alcohol to under 18s, but young people are increasingly accessing alcohol by other means.

“Asking an adult to buy alcohol for them is one of the most common tactics used. This campaign raises awareness of the serious consequences of buying alcohol on behalf of a young person and provides support for retailers in the area – there is very little retailers can do by themselves to solve this problem and we need a multi-agency partnership approach.”

Chief Inspector Kevin McLean, local area commander for North East Edinburgh, said: “We currently believe that the issue of proxy purchasing is under-reported within the Leith area and one of the key aims of this campaign is to ensure the public contact police if they witness someone buying alcohol for minors.

“We also want people to know the penalties they could face, should they be caught committing this offence.”