Five charged over under-18 drink sales

File picture: Jane Barlow

File picture: Jane Barlow

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FIVE people have been charged after alcohol was sold to under-age customers.

The East Lothian-wide crackdown involved “test purchases” being carried out at 51 licensed shops.

It can often lead to antisocial behaviour, which in turn has a considerable impact on our communities.

Andrew Harborrow

Aldi at Olive Bank retail park and Open All Hours at Eskview Terrace, both Musselburgh, fell foul of the operation, as did Co-op on Ormiston’s Main Street, Nisa on High Street, North Berwick, and the Day-Today Pans Convenience Store in Prestonpans.

Two 18-year-old men and three women aged 35, 62 and 29 will be reported to the procurator fiscal and to the East Lothian Licensing Board.

Police Scotland routinely organises test purchasing to help enforce licensing legislation and crack down on those selling to under-18s.

Those who break the law risk a prison sentence of up to three months, a maximum fine of £5000 or both.

Inspector Andrew Harborrow said: “This latest activity demonstrates that the vast majority of retailers sell alcohol responsibly and I thank them for their thoroughness. However, it’s extremely disappointing that five businesses failed the test, two of whom have failed for the second time in just six months.

“There are significant consequences when alcohol is sold to under-age customers, not only to that individual’s health but also on the strain it can place on the emergency services.

“It can often lead to antisocial behaviour, which in turn has a considerable impact on our communities.”

Insp Harborrow said his officers were committed to tracing irresponsible retailers who “flout licensing obligations”.

He added: “We will prosecute staff members as well as store owners and ignorance is not an excuse.”

Police are calling on shop managers to give staff appropriate training and make them aware of the consequences of selling alcohol to under-age customers.

The Think 25 initiative urges shopkeepers to always ask for identification if a customers looks like they may be under 25.

Councillor Shamin Akhtar, East Lothian’s spokesman for education and children’s services, said: “East Lothian Council supports any action taken by Police Scotland in relation to interrupting the supply of alcohol to under-age young people.

“It’s very disappointing to see this happening as the consequences can be very damaging. We fully support the advice by Police Scotland which is to stick to the Think 25 campaign.”

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com