Retailers found guilty of the most serious breaches of underage alcohol, fireworks, solvents and scratch card sales laws could now be saddled with unlimited fines, after the £5,000 upper limit was scrapped this week.
The Ministry of Justice’s Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 was implemented on 12 March in England and Wales.
The legislation applies to the sale of every age restricted product with the exception of tobacco.
The change will require retailers to maintain watertight underage sales prevention techniques at all times, the Association of Convenience Stores said.
Tony Allen, MD and founder of training provider Under Age Sales, agreed. “The consequences of having an inadequate age identification policy are now a lot worse,” he said.
“Retailers need to ensure that staff are fully trained, that the correct signage is displayed and that they operate a challenge 25 policy.
“If a retailer is caught selling age restricted products, such as alcohol and scratch cards, to children, magistrates now have to include a punitive element to the sentence, and are no longer constrained to maximum penalties. Other factors such as the turnover of the business can now been taken in to consideration during sentencing, which could result in retailers being hit with seriously damaging punishments.
“The consequences of failing to adhere to the law could be extremely harmful to a business and we advise all retailers to check that staff are fully trained and that they are running a compliant business,” Allen added.