Police target ‘agent buyers’ in booze blitz

Stock'Under age drinking and shops selling alcohol to under 18's.
Stock'Under age drinking and shops selling alcohol to under 18's.

Selling drink to under-18’s is illegal all year round – but this summer police will be turning up the heat on “agent purchasers” for a special reason.

North Lanarkshire has been chosen as the launchpad for a scheme which will be rolled out across the country after summer.

And police will be aiming to prove that unscrupulous adults responsible for selling booze to youngsters can expect the full force of the law.

The Licensing (Scotland) Act makes it an offence for a person to “act as an agent for a child in purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol”.

Now the Scottish Government’s alcohol industry partnership and the North Lanarkshire Community Safety Partnership have teamed up with the police in a bid to tackle one of the area’s most intractable problems.

In particular they’ll be trying to get it more widely understood that agent purchasing is criminal, and that it carries a penalty of up to £5,000 or three months in prison.

Until now the campaign to tackle youth drinking has concentrated mainly on retailers, as drastic sanctions can be applied to people who sell to youngsters – even if they thought they looked over 18.

But even if every shop does its job responsibly there’s no defence against the over-18 who buys drink for youngsters.

Summer (even one with bad weather) is a prime time to launch the campaign, as schools are out and under-18’s have time on their hands.

The North Lanarkshire campaign was launched on Monday, with help from the Scottish Grocers Federation, and police will step up patrols with the aim of making an impact on the problem.

The message to adults buying drink is that if they’re caught supplying under-18’s with booze it could turn out to be the most expensive carry-out they’ve ever bought.