Paul Wilks, who owns a Budgens in Grange Park, Northampton, introduced the scheme last October as a six-week trial, but anti-social behaviour in the area reduced so significantly that he decided to extend it through Christmas and beyond.

Paul reports that the scheme has been well-received by his customers and sales have even increased. "There was no negative feedback from the public and because there are no longer gangs of youths hanging around the front of the store, there is a more positive and welcoming atmosphere.

"In fact, from a sales perspective, business has improved. People are happy to spend a bit more in our store when they know they can shop safely."

Paul came up with the idea when he saw that 18- and 19-year-olds were buying alcohol for those underage, who then loitered outside the store causing a disturbance.

After consulting the local police, he decided to bring in the ban. "The police have been very supportive of our decision and have had regular patrols in the area," said Paul.

Before the scheme, Paul was forced to call the police up to six times a week to deal with problem youngsters.

"Since I started the scheme, I haven't had to call them once for anti-social behaviour," he added.