Two Newport based shops have become the first on the Isle of Wight to be banned from selling alcohol for a 48hr period under licensing laws.
Gunville Stores in Gunville, and Seaclose Stores in Fairlee Road, both failed two test purchase exercises when they both served alcohol to an underage girl on 21 October and 17 January respectively. The girls who took part in the two test purchase exercises were aged 15 and 16.
Under the law, the shop owners could accept the order not to sell alcohol or face possible prosecution.
The outlets are forbidden from selling alcohol to anyone between 1700 on Friday 18 February until 1700 on Sunday 20 February.
Barry Abraham is Isle of Wight Council Cabinet member responsible for community safety. He said “The local authority, in particular our Trading Standards team, work closely with the police to ensure shops abide by the law when it comes to selling age-restricted products.
“For any shop to fail a test purchase exercise is serious, but for two shops to fail twice within a couple of months is simply unacceptable and it leaves the authorities no choice but to take action.
“Selling alcohol to underage people can lead to anti social behaviour and I would hope using powers available to the authorities to prevent shops from selling alcohol for a weekend period gives the message that we and the police will not hesitate to use the necessary powers to stamp this kind of problem out.”
Sergeant Mark Voller from Hampshire Constabulary’s Isle of Wight Licensing Unit said “Because alcohol is harmful to young people, police are determined to enforce the law regarding sale to anyone under 18. Whilst retailers must have policies to prevent such sales, we have again found it possible for young people to buy alcohol in local shops, which is clearly unacceptable.
“We stress, once again, that shop staff cannot rely on guesswork and intuition, but must require, and check carefully, customer ID to avoid making illegal sales. These latest repeat failures were disappointing, but I am assured by the licensees concerned that they are doing everything possible to prevent such sales in the future.
“These closures have been timed to coincide with the start of the school half term holiday, a time when some young people may be tempted to buy alcohol. We want to send a clear message to retailers, and to would-be underage drinkers, that the laws regarding alcohol and young people are being strictly enforced. Anyone under 18 who attempts to buy alcohol, or who is repeatedly found in possession of it, will commit an offence and may face prosecution.”
Regular test purchase operations are carried out across the Island and staff, as well as shop owners who serve age-restricted products are given an on-the-spot fine.
As well as the prospect of being banned from selling products for a set period, shops and other businesses selling age restricted products could ultimately lose their trading licence should they be caught breaking the law.