SGF critical of under-21 booze ban

01 April, 2008

More stringent enforcement of existing licensing laws should be favoured over voluntary alcohol sales bans, according to the Scottish Grocers Federation.

Commenting on a scheme in Armadale, West Lothian, where the sale of alcohol is not permitted to under-21s at weekends, SGF president Colin Landsburgh said:

"Rather than launching voluntary bans in pockets across the country, I would like more robust enforcement of the current legislation.

“Responsible retailers are very aware of the serious repercussions which can affect them and their sales staff if they do not enforce the law regarding the sale of alcohol.

“As a result, many have adopted a Challenge 21 or, in some cases, a Challenge 25 policy to ensure that the customer is of a legal age to purchase alcohol.”

As part of a pilot initiative by Lothian & Borders Police and West Lothian Council, Armadale’s 11 drinks retailers agreed to refuse the sale of alcohol to under-21s from 5pm to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

ID for all customers under 25 will also be checked as part of the scheme.

The project is the first of its kind to be trialled in Scotland and follows a similar one run in Cleveland, South Yorkshire.

Ian Lovie, compliance manager at convenience store Scotmid, said: “As a responsible retailer, community safety is very important to us. Like the police, we will be monitoring the impact of this pilot. We hope that our customers understand why we are taking part in this initiative.”

However, Landsburgh said the only way to tackle antisocial drinking is to change the culture and encourage sensible drinking.

He said: “It is interesting that in Cleveland where a similar ban was introduced, the initiative was supported by an increase in police presence which I would suggest contributed significantly to its success.”

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