The Co-operative Group is tackling adults who buy alcohol for under-18s with an innovative trial scheme in Cheshire. The Arc (Alcohol Related Crime ) Angel project, run with Cheshire police, is intended to reduce proxy sales and alcohol-related crime in the county. Five Co-op stores in the area have put neck labels carrying the Arc Angel logo on the alcohol products that they suspect are most likely to be bought for under-18s. The labels and accompanying shelf barkers warn adults that they face an £80 fine if they pass the bottles on to children.

Co-operative Group national business crime partnership manager Andy Pope said that police, staff and customers were asked which drinks they felt were finding their way into the hands of young people. Some of these lines were then removed from sale.

Discreet markings on bottles and cans are used to identify the source of products confiscated from youths by police. The action was taken after a survey at one store revealed that 83% of staff had been verbally abused or physically attacked in the past six months after refusing an underaged person alcohol or a proxy sale. “The scores were ridiculously high,” said Pope. “For us, that’s a concern and as a responsible retailer we wanted to take action.”

The project also involves enhanced staff training and community initiatives including role-play sessions where young people can play the part of a c-store manager. The trial will run until the end of March, after which it may be rolled out to other Co-op stores.

Cheshire police are keen for other businesses to get involved in Arc Angel. Contact Karen Makinson on 01244 615047.