Dudley 15 unite with police in trial

22 February, 2008

Off-licences back local scheme that aims to tackle under-age drinking. Emma Eversham reports

Fifteen off-licences in Dudley have joined forces with their local police to help tackle under-age drinking and retail crime.

The stores in the Upper Gornal and Castle and Priory wards of the town agreed to sign a voluntary code of conduct to help stop under-18s getting their hands on alcohol.

In return, police have been offering staff advice on how to protect premises†against theft and how to deal†with gangs of youths congregating outside shops.

Sgt Natalie Hobster, one of the officers who set up the scheme, said she was pleased so many retailers in the area were backing it.

"It's us saying, 'look, we are asking a lot of you, but we are trying to support you, too'. It's a way of tackling under-age drinking together," she said.

Shops are also being hooked up to a police radio network, enabling them to share information about children under 18 trying to buy alcohol. Police



officers make regular visits to check there are no problems.

Hobster said: "We will review things in three months' time, but so far we are really pleased. I was a bit nervous and sceptical that it would work at first, but we've had a fantastic response."

Lancashire police have praised drinks shops for their 100 per cent test purchase pass rate. Test purchasers were sent into 10 off-licences in Burnley and Padiham on Feb 8. The stores were chosen for visits after residents said they suspected that under-18s were buying alcohol from them, but none were found doing so.

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