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Sales to under-18s show slight decrease

Published:  23 July, 2008

Alcohol sales to minors are still proving a problem for the Government, according to new figures released last week.

The fourth Alcohol Misuse Enforcement Campaign (AMEC), which took place from 8 May to 8 June this year, involved nearly 7,000 test purchases carried out across the off- and on-trade (with a ratio of around 4:1). And while the results are a significant improvement on last summer's campaign, they are about the same as the third AMEC, which took place in November and December 2005.

The latest AMEC revealed that 21% of off-trade premises, 29% of on-trade premises and 18% of supermarkets sold to under-18s, while the previous AMEC showed failure rates of 22%, 29% and 17%, respectively). In the summer of 2005, the off-trade failure rate was 36%, with 51% for on-trade premises and 50% for supermarkets.

Jeremy Beadles, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), said: The past 12 months have seen unprecedented levels of work and cooperation from the licensed retail trade in the establishment and work of the Retails of Alcohol Standards Group (RASG). The results over that 12-month period show that we have affected considerable change in relation to underage sales, which is now firmly entrenched. But we are not complacent and recognise that there is more to do.'

Nick Grant, chairman of the RASG, added: We're pleased the trend is very much going in the right direction. The RASG has achieved an enormous amount since it was formed a year ago.'

As a result of the findings, the RASG has made a number of recommendations, including:

refreshing and reinvigorating the Under-21 signage and campaign

adapting training to focus more on the techniques that train and test staff on their judgement

encouraging Trading Standards to formalise their test purchase code of practice

encouraging Trading Standards and the police to work more closely with store staff.

In addition, numerous initiatives will be trialled in Staffordshire, such as standardising signage across

the area, visiting schools, promoting valid forms of ID

to 18- to 24-year-olds and encouraging young people to be aware of the consequences to themselves and to retailers should they attempt to purchase alcohol.