‘Shopkeepers must help stop young boozers’

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anyone who has seen teenagers dressed up to the nines for a night out in the city centre will know just how hard it can be to tell exactly how old many of them are, especially when looking older is precisely their aim.

But there will be precious little sympathy for shopkeeper Shafqat Syed who has lost his licence to sell alcohol, albeit temporarily, after being caught for the second time selling vodka first to 15-year-olds and then to 16-year-olds.

Underage drinking on the streets remains one of the biggest causes of antisocial behaviour problems in several parts of the city, as many of Mr Syed’s neighbours in Tollcross will testify.

And the role of shopkeepers in tackling it is absolutely crucial. As the ones who are in a position to enforce the law, they are on the front line.

It is in many ways harder for the city authorities to take action, but there are two things which they can do.

First, the police and council can be proactive in checking on stores, ensuring that when one breaks the law there is a good chance that it will be caught.

The city has a reasonable track record here, being one of the pioneers of test-purchasing in Scotland.

Secondly, when offending stores are caught, the courts and licensing board must hand out tough enough punishments to act as a proper deterrent.

This is where many people are still to be convinced that enough is being done.

In this latest case, the punishment has seen Mr Syed’s store lose its licence to sell alcohol for just two months, although he may yet face further action from the licensing board and the courts.

When it deals with such cases the licensing board needs to send out a message loud and clear that this will not be tolerated. A slap on the wrist is not enough.

Right behind him

IT is fantastic news that Morro Bajo will be coming back to Edinburgh to pursue his Commonwealth Games dream – and hopefully pick up a medal for Scotland.

When we first revealed his story, we had no doubt that the funds to bring him here from the Gambia would be raised quickly. The 15-year-old clearly had a few troubles during his time in the Capital previously but this can be treated as a new start as his natural talent is nurtured by our top coaches. Like anyone else he runs against, we will be behind him all the way.