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East Northamptonshire Council crack down on illegal alcohol sales

Published Thursday, 02 January 2020

The Licensing Enforcement team has been working with Northamptonshire Police Licensing department to cut down on illegal alcohol age-restricted product sales by conducting test purchasing.

A test purchase is when the Police, local authority or Trading Standards employs a child aged between 15 and 16 to visit a bar or shop and tries to purchase age-restricted goods, in this case alcohol, to check that the law is being complied with. Test purchases can happen at any time that a premises is open and if a business fails a test purchase, it is likely they’ll receive another within three months.

Between 15 April and 30 October 2019, 28 test purchases were conducted across East Northamptonshire, with nine businesses failing. All the sellers who failed were issued with a Penalty Notice for Disorder fine for £90.

This operation has also resulted in three reviews of premises licences and one premises surrendering its licence prior to formal action being taken, meaning no alcohol sales can take place and conditions being added to the licence.

Cllr Steven North, Leader of East Northamptonshire Council said:

“These figures show, sadly, how common illegal alcohol age-restricted sales are in East Northamptonshire and we will continue to work with Northamptonshire Police to keep residents and, in particular, young people, safe.

“Unfortunately if a seller is found to have sold an age-restricted product to an underage customer, the individual is fined and may have to appear in court, rather than the business owner.”

PC David Bryan, Northamptonshire Police Licensing Officer added:

“We would always recommend that Challenge 21 or 25 is adopted by businesses - this means that if the customer does not look 21 or 25, then the seller must ask for a valid form of ID to prove the person is over 18.

“In addition it is always useful to have an ID policy, detailing which ID you and your employees are going to accept. Typical ID accepted includes photo driving licences, passports, HM Forces ID cards and ID cards with the PASS hologram.”

To find out more about licensing in East Northamptonshire and to report any illegal activity, please contact East Northamptonshire Council’s Licensing Enforcement Officer, Rita Groves on 01832 742241 or