Thursday, June 01, 2006

Under-age drinking

I know from feedback from numerous publicans that I am far from being alone in being uncomfortable at the way Hampshire Constabularly is policing under-age drinking. According to yesterday's Daily Echo, they are using under-age children to go into pubs across the city and attempt to illegally purchase alcohol. While underage drinking in any premises, including pubs, is unacceptable, one has to wonder if entrapment of bar staff is the answer. Further, such activity would appear to be to be against the published Home Office Guidelines that state such operations should take place where the police have received intelligence that under-age drinking is taking place. That is certainly not the case in the premises that the police have visited in Southampton. The fact that during the latest 'stings', the Officer in Charge invited the press along would seem to indicate that this is all about publicity rather than effective policing. Rather than attempting to catch people out, a partnership approach with particular emphasis on staff training is surely the answer?
Interestingly, I understand that the police carry out no such checks in the likes of Tescos, Sainsbury's and other retailers who supply the 'take-home trade' yet the perception of many that are involved in the drinks industry is that such retailers are a major part of the problems of both under-age drinking and binge drinking. For example, in the average pub a bottle of Stella Artois is about £2.40, this week Asda are advertising 2 cases (40 bottles) for £16.00. Draw your own conclusions.


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