The Home Secretary’s intention for the police to do more about tackling underage drinking in public places has been welcomed by the Association of Convenience Stores. The Minister outlined plans for a centrally funded alcohol confiscation campaign over the period of school half term. The Minister also signalled her intention to strengthen

the existing powers the police have to confiscate alcohol from people in a public place. ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The police should have all the powers they need to prevent young people from drinking in public. Our members are located in the high streets and neighbourhoods that suffer from the anti-social consequences of gangs of underage drinkers. Tough action against this type of behaviour is a key part of the solution to the problems we face.”

“We also accept that retailers have a key part to play. Police and retailers can work together to identify anti-social drinkers and gang members. They can work with police to identify and punish those people that buy alcohol that they then supply to underage drinkers. To do this retailers have to be open to working in partnership with police and vice versa.”

Lowman indicated that ACS would be writing to Jacqui Smith encouraging her to ensure that any new powers given to Police are properly and extensively used.

He said: “We welcome the focus and additional funding that will be put into enforcement in this area over the school half term period. We hope that it is successful and also that it leads to an ongoing renewed commitment to tackling street drinking long after the initiative is over.”

“Unfortunately previous moves by Ministers to provide the police with new powers have not necessarily led to changes in enforcement behaviour. For example since 2004 Police have had the power to issue on the spot fines for attempting to buy alcohol when underage and buying alcohol on behalf of an under 18. However the statistics available show that these are hardly being used at all.”

Lowman also commented on the need for retailers to ensure their houses are in order: “Retailers must remain vigilant to their own responsibilities and ensure they are not selling alcohol to underage people. Retailers have made great strides in putting in place the procedures and training required to prevent sales, but there can be no complacency. Those that do not take this seriously will quite rightly face tough sanctions.”