Retailers in Scotland are upset at the decision to use youngsters as part of alcohol test purchases on c-stores.

Scotland’s Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC has agreed to allow under 18s to make test purchases of alcohol in pubs and licensed premises. Earlier this year he agreed to let children buy tobacco and fireworks as a way of catching store owners who sell age-restricted products to minors.

The Scottish Executive has confirmed it will amend the Licensing Bill in Scotland to make the new plans possible. Botterills Stores managing director Lizette Craig, who oversees 40 Spar stores in the country, believes the decision puts extra pressure on honest retailers trying to enforce their own test purchasing initiatives in-store.

She said: “This is very disappointing because the majority of retailers in Scotland are trying their best to make sure they don’t sell to anyone underage. We carry out our own test purchasing and trust our staff, but you will always get mistakes. To be caught out once by something that has been set up is just unfair. What we need is more support from the Scottish Executive for a national ID card.”

Graeme Knowles, who runs a Nisa Local store in Aberdeen, said: “It concerns me that methods like this have to be used to obtain convictions against retailers. It seems a little underhand. Retailers should always ask for ID.” Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) director Fiona Moriarty called on retailers to take a ‘No ID, No Sale’ stance to underage sales.

She said: “It is important to remember that eradicating underage sales is not about catching people out. “It can be extremely difficult for retailers to gauge the age of young people. The ‘No ID, No Sale’ principle makes it clear to retailers and customers.”

The Licensing Bill goes in front of the Scottish Parliament on November 16 and is set to become law in February 2008.