Scotland: alcohol retailers under fire over test purchases

22 April, 2008

A Conservative MSP is calling for tougher measures against drinks retailers who sell alcohol to under-18s, after new figures showed more than one in ten stores failed test purchases.

A Conservative MSP is urging licensing boards in Scotland to impose stricter enforcement on drinks retailers who sell alcohol to under-18s, after 14 per cent of stores were found to have failed test purchases.

Test purchasing was rolled out nationally across Scotland for the first time in May last year following a pilot scheme in Fife.

Results obtained by OLN show that of the 632 tests carried out in the off-trade, 87 were failures.

Test purchases on failed premises were then carried out again with five of the 87 premises failing on the second visit.

Bill Aitken, the Tory MSP who asked for the information in Parliament yesterday, said: "It is quite clear that licensing boards need to toughen up in their attitude to licensees selling drink to under-age buyers.

“One thing is certain - anybody who knowingly sells alcohol to young people under the age of 18 should have their licence revoked. For those who get a second chance and still fail, there must be serious questions as to whether they should ever get a licence again.”

A Scottish government spokesman said the country's forthcoming alcohol strategy would examine all the options available to help Scotland "kick its drink problem".

He said: "We have made it abundantly clear that if you can't tell, you shouldn't sell, because your licence is at risk and you may well be prosecuted.

"We expect licensing boards to take strong action against those who sell alcohol to children."

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