Off-licences fails underage booze tests in undercover police operation

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A number of off-licences across Gloucestershire were caught out in an undercover police operation targeting the sale of alcohol to under age people. The test purchase operation ran in Cheltenham, Tewkesbury, Stroud and Gloucester on Tuesday (June 25) where teenagers attempted to buy booze.

PCs Battye and Sansom from our Licensing Team ran the operation. Of eight shops in Cheltenham and Tewkesbury, one failed; five shops were visited in Stroud with one failing; and nine shops in Gloucester were visited with two failing.

The operation involved teenagers from the Police Cadets and Special Constabulary who attempted to buy alcohol to try and gauge whether shop employees were being responsible and abiding by licensing laws. The teenagers entered the venues that were being tested accompanied by officers in plain clothes, who observed their attempt to buy alcohol.

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The test purchaser is always careful not to lie about their age and does not produce any ID if asked. Completing the test purchases allowed police to ensure that licensed premises are meeting their objective under the Licensing Act to prevent children coming to harm and enforce any breaches through education, letters/warnings, tickets or taking the premise to review in certain circumstances.

PC Sansom said: "We regularly undertake these operations to make sure any licensed premises are acting responsibly, on this occasion four of the 22 venues visited failed. One premise in Cheltenham is being taken to review for persistently selling alcohol to children."

The penalties for failing a test purchase can include a fine of up to £5,000, prosecution and withdrawal of the premises licence to sell alcohol.