Council Stings Catch Shops Serving Minors

Pubs keep punters on short measures for spirits

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More than 25 per cent of local shops blitzed by Ealing Council’s trading standards team have been caught selling alcohol to minors. In the lead up to Christmas and New Year, officers have stepped up their enforcement of under-age alcohol sales in shops, off-licences, pubs and bars across the borough. In the first week alone, three out of 11 shops were caught selling alcohol to the under-aged police cadets who volunteered their time for the operation. Owners have received serious warnings and further action - including fines, licensing penalties or prosecution - may be taken against them.

Over coming weeks, the undercover team will continue to blitz shops, supermarkets and off-licences, in addition to pubs, clubs and bars. During the festive period last year, five out of 39 shops were caught selling alcohol to young people aged under 18 years.

Councillor Will Brooks, cabinet member for environment and transport, who is responsible for trading standards, said: “This is a concerning indication and I warn local businesses to take a more responsible approach or suffer the consequences. Irresponsibility can lead to prosecution or endanger your licence and livelihood. Under-age drinking has a serious impact on the health and development of young people, and has been linked to anti-social behaviour. There is no excuse for selling alcohol to minors. It takes only moments to check ID.”

Meanwhile, a series of stings by Ealing Council and other north west London boroughs found one in 10 spirits served in pubs and bars were under-measured by 10 per cent or more.

The North West London Metrology Specialist Group - comprising trading standards experts from Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Hillingdon, Barnet, Enfield, Haringey, Brent and Harrow councils - made 103 test purchases at 46 pubs and bars and found 10 were short-measured by more than 10 per cent, and 13 short-measured by 5-10 per cent. In the worst cases, Christmas tipples were short by more than 20 per cent.

In Ealing, trading standards officers checked a total of 24 samples. One sample was under-measured by more than 10 per cent, two by 5-10 per cent and 13 by less than five per cent. Eight samples were correctly poured or over-measured. Doug Love, Ealing trading standards team leader, said: “Spirits are a high value product, so a short-poured drink could mean a loss to the consumer of around 40p or more. Consumers should get what they pay for. The pubs and bars that served short measures have been advised and warned that further undercover purchases will be made. We will not hesitate to take action if they continue to short-change customers."

All samples under-measured by more than 10 per cent were poured by hand using a measuring thimble or similar measuring cup rather than an optic device.

December 17, 2006