North leads under-age fight

14 November, 2008

Serve Legal test purchasing reveals regions of UK that are taking heed

The north east is leading the way in cracking down on sales of alcohol to under-age drinkers, according to

figures from test purchasing company Serve Legal.

The region's retailers achieved a pass rate of 87% after being anonymously visited by teenagers.

Sales staff needed to ask to see a customer's ID if they thought the purchaser was 21 or younger.

The next best -performing regions were the Midlands (80%), south central (75%), London (72%) and Scotland (64%). At the other end of the scale, the worst -performing regions were Northern Ireland (8%), the south west (57%) and Wales (58%).

Supermarkets achieved a pass rate of 72%, while the convenience sector had a pass rate of 63%.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: "It's encouraging that the pass rates are improving but there's still

a

way to go.

"Even if you are very good [about asking for ID] you could still be in trouble -

you have to be outstanding every time."

Serve Legal director Charlie Mowat said that all retailers should be extra vigilant in the run-up to Christmas.

He said: "If you are let down by your staff and are caught serving alcohol to anyone under-age, you could lose your licence and independent retailers could lose their livelihood.

"Of all the issues currently facing retailers, the government's determination to eradicate under-age drinking and sales to minors, and close or penalise problem premises, is perhaps the biggest threat."

Serve Legal is employed by Asda, Waitrose, Thresher Group, Londis and Spar. A nationwide team of 18 and

19-year-old testers carried out more than 4,0 00 visits to supermarkets, convenience stores and off-licences between July and September.

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