Scottish police oppose SNP's proposal to raise drinking age

17 October, 2008

Law enforcers join chorus of disapproval over government alcohol stance


under -21s from buying alcohol

in off-licences and supermarkets in Scotland is not feasible, according to police

north of the border.

The Scottish Police Service has added its voice to the chorus of opposition to the ruling SNP group's proposals, which were recently voted down in a Holyrood debate but remain on the legislative agenda.

Some sceptics believe that the proposals are a "red herring" and that Alex Salmond's government will be prepared to publicly concede defeat over the new age limit - but is determined to press on with equally controversial plans for minimum pricing and a ban on promotions.

The police submission was one of

530 received by ministers as part of the consultation.

Although it supported controls on drinks promotions, it questioned the legality of minimum pricing and warned that raising the legal purchasing age risked "demonising and alienating perfectly law-abiding 18 to 20 year olds".

It added: "You could have someone running an off-sales premises, with all the concomitant responsibilities, but who could not himself purchase any alcohol for his, or any other, off-sales premises."

Gavin Partington, head of communications at the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, said: "The Scottish government is saying they're going to go ahead and pursue this, but popular opinion is against them."

He said it was possible the proposals might be modified to allow local authorities to impose a higher age limit where they deem it appropriate.

"I think it would be undesirable ," he said. "Whether it's workable would depend on the extent local people were prepared to tolerate it and local agencies

prepared to enforce it."

He added: "The next big battle is the issue of minimum pricing and promotions and whether it's legally viable. There is a lot of opinion to suggest it's illegal or at the very least will run into difficulties with the competition authorities here and in Europe."

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