Child Alcohol Sales ‘On The Rise’

The number of children able to buy alcohol in supermarkets across England and Wales has gone up, figures from a government scheme have revealed. Supermarket chain Kwik Save had the highest failure rate at 26%, Somerfield was 22% while Sainsbury’s and Morrisons both scored 20%, the results showed. Overall, the failure rate for chains has risen from 17% to 18%. The government said it was disappointed but industry bodies insisted that progress was being made on the issue.

The fourth Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaign (AMEC), which cost £2.3 million, carried out hundreds of “sting” operations where minors attempted to buy alcohol in May and June of this year. Out of 1,346 such stings, children were able to buy alcohol in 244 cases.

Meanwhile, the failure rate for licensed premises was 29%, which is down from 53% in the previous AMEC campaign carried out last winter.

The East Midlands had the highest off-licence failure rate with 31%, followed by the east of England on 28%, London on 24%, Wales 22% while the South East and the South West had 21%.

In the licensed trade, Wales had the highest failure proportion with 48%, followed by the east of England on 39%, the South West and the East Midlands 31% and the North West and the South East on 30%.

The results also showed that police visited more than 30,000 licensed premises and issued 7,300 fixed penalty notices.

The campaign saw 29,981 people arrested, rising from 25,486 in the previous one.

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said: “The licensed trade need to build on the real progress they have made to drive down sales to young people even further.”

Mike Craik, chief constable of Northumbria Police and spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said rogue retailers could “expect to be hit financially through a suspension or revocation of your premises licence”.

Rob Hayward, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said companies were developing “innovative ways of ensuring managers, licensees, bar staff and the public are aware of our determination to tackle underage sales”.

Nick Grant, of the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group, said: “We’re pleased the trend is very much going in the right direction.”