Serve Legal calls for national policy for test purchasing

29 October, 2010

A company employed by retailers to test under-age sales policies has called for a new national code of practice.

Serve Legal says such a move would remove inconsistencies between different local authorities and police forces in their approach to under-age sales.

It is also calling for tighter control over sting operations to ensure evidence is properly gained and recorded, and results are verified and made available to retailers involved. It wants greater emphasis placed on proxy sales as well as under-age purchases and tougher action against minors buying alcohol, not just retailers selling it.

Serve Legal – which conducts mystery-shopper visits to test age verification schemes, using 18 and 19 year olds – says retailers are “in an impossible position because there is no consistent approach in tackling under-age sales”.

It adds that “there are too many variables and differences in the actions and interpretations of local authorities”.

A spokesman said there was a need for a more uniform approach “so that everyone knows where they stand”.

Supermarkets visited by Serve Legal scored an 80% pass rate between July and September, and convenience stores scored 77%.

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