Convenience store retailers passed 82.5% of alcohol ID check tests in 2016, down slightly on the previous year’s figure, but they improved their tobacco test pass rate, according to Serve Legal.

Nearly 43,000 alcohol sales tests were undertaken by young-looking 18- and 19-year-olds in UK convenience stores, petrol stations and supermarkets last year.

Age ID was requested in 82.5% of visits to convenience stores, compared to an 83% pass rate in 2015. Supermarkets were the highest-performing retailers, passing 84% of tests in 2016 compared to 87% in 2015, while petrol stations were the lowest-performing retailers, passing 78% of alcohol age check tests.

Scotland maintained its historical position of achieving the highest overall alcohol test pass rate in the UK with retailers passing 87% of age check tests in 2016. Northern Ireland was the poorest performer with a pass rate of 72%.

C-stores improved their tobacco test pass rate (including e-cigarettes and vaping products) from 69% to 71% year on year. The overall pass rate was 76%.

Serve Legal director Ed Heaver said: “Rigorous, regular testing for age-restricted sales sees compliance levels improve dramatically which reduces the risk of alcohol, tobacco and other harmful products getting into the hands of children.

“It should be an integral part of retail training and operational best practice, not a panic purchase after a sting by trading standards or the police.”