Immediate approach to tests

11 January, 2008

Scottish police told to give pass or failure news to retailers on the spot

Scottish retailers will be told immediately whether they have passed or failed a test purchase as the scheme is rolled out across the country.

It will be down to police to give the news as they will administer test-purchasing in Scotland

according to guidelines issued by the Scottish

government. The approach differs from that of England and Wales, where councils

var y in their stance

and many only tell drinks shops if they have failed the stings.

Stores that fail will be re-tested

within two weeks and second failures will be reported to the new licensing boards for sanctions .

The guidelines also advise police that test purchase volunteers should tell the truth when challenged about their age. Some authorities in England and Wales have encouraged children to lie, to create a realistic scenario.

The Scottish

government has also confirmed

licensing boards will have some authority to set fee levels locally for the

licensing regime. Scotland's licensing act comes into effect in 2009, but retailers can apply for the new personal and premises licences from next month.

To prevent retailers being over charged, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has capped fees

depending on the rateable value of the premises. C harges range from a £200

application

and £180 annual

fee for premises with no rateable value, up to £2,000 and £900

for those with a rateable value of more than £140,000.

MacAskill said: "This is the only approach that avoids a situation where some boards fall short of meeting their costs. It will allow boards to make sure their costs are fully met by the fees they charge

and will stop councils, and taxpayers, having to subsidise licensing boards to the tune of around £1.65 million."

The Scottish Grocers' Federation

said the charges

were a "staggering increase" over current fees. "We shall be consulting with

licensing

boards to determine their intentions with a view to keeping increases to a minimum,"

it added.

Chief executive John Drummond said: "We believe

local authorities will take advantages of the perimeters that Kenny MacAskill has given them. We hope they will be responsible and carry out what they need to carry out, but fear they will take advantage of the situation."




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