Retailers in Scotland are taking a responsible attitude towards alcohol sales, but face an uphill battle in their attempts to guard against adults purchasing on behalf of minors, according to a new report.
The assessment comes from a study commissioned by the Scottish Executive, which revealed little evidence of retailers selling to the underaged but highlighted a disturbing trend of third-party purchasing.
The report called for the issue to be tackled through education and for the courts to take a stricter line against adults buying alcohol on behalf of under-18s.
Scottish retailers' experiences echoed the survey findings. Linda Williams owns Broadway Star Supermarket in Edinburgh with her husband Dennis. She told Convenience Store: "Adults buying for children is one of the biggest problems we face. The youngsters hang around and constantly pester customers. The kids rarely try it on themselves because they know we've got a strict ID policy. Although we can catch the culprits on CCTV buying the alcohol, it never shows them handing the alcohol over to the children. There needs to be some kind of publicity campaign to make people understand that it's illegal and a serious problem."
Scottish Retail Consortium director Fiona Moriarty added: "It's extremely encouraging that the report found little evidence of retailers directly supplying minors, which means that the training and education programmes the industry has put in place are working. However, the issue of third-party selling is one that needs to be tackled as a priority."