Police get tough on under-age drinking

Pubs are to be prosecuted for serving alcohol to children as young as 14 police revealed yesterday after launching a new clampdown on licensees serving underage drinkers.

Pubs are to be prosecuted for serving alcohol to children as young as 14 police revealed yesterday after launching a new clampdown on licensees serving underage drinkers.

The Safer Norwich Partnership - an initiative involving Norfolk police and trading standards - began a series of routine checks involving youths posing as customers at premises in Norwich. The scheme, aimed at ensuring landlords are obeying licensing laws, are to be extended across the county.

The first operation was carried out at the weekend. Sgt Darren Tate, who was in charge of the operation, said: “We visited three licensed premises; two pubs and one nightclub.

“In both pubs a 14-year old girl bought alcoholic drinks for herself and a 16-year-old who was with her. We are disappointed there was no challenge for proof of age and that intelligence leading us to these pubs proved accurate.

“For each offence the person serving the youngster has been given a fixed penalty notice leading to an £80 fine. We will now be taking action with the licensees. We ran out of time on Saturday so we'll be coming back to the other places on our list of targets next time.”

Chf Insp Gavin Tempest said: “We have done a lot to make the city centre a safe and attractive place to go on weekend evenings and the licensed trade have mainly responded positively in setting high standards of management.

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“We have evidence that a small number of operators are allowing youngsters in and some are drinking alcohol. In the context of a drinking culture attracting potentially vulnerable young people this is dangerous - these are the ones most likely to fall victim or being involved in disorderly behaviour under the influence of alcohol.”

He added that test purchasing will help ensure licensees have procedures in place to make sure young people are protected.

“There are two messages; one to licensees to do all they can to maintain safety and one to young people who want to try and drink with older peers - it's against the law and it's putting you at risk,” said Mr Tempest.

Shaun Norris, from Norfolk County Council trading standards, said: “Before this weekend we focussed our attention on off-licensed premises.

“Now we have a tried and tested way to enforce the law on under age sales in pubs and clubs, probably the highest risk place for young people to buy and drink alcohol. We intend continuing this approach with Norfolk police elsewhere in the county where there is a problem”.