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Pub consultant backs larger penalty fines for underage sales

By Adam Pescod , 18-Jan-2013
Last updated on 18-Jan-2013 at 11:26 GMT2013-01-18T11:26:08Z

Kheng: “I think people will start to think about what they are doing behind the bar
Kheng: “I think people will start to think about what they are doing behind the bar"

A pub trade consultant believes the problem of underage drinking in the UK could be solved by instant fines of up to £700 for bar staff who serve under-18s.

Michael Kheng, director of the Kurnia Group, said England and Wales “can learn a lot” from the Australian approach to alcohol, specifically around underage sales. Bar staff can get on-the-spot fines of AUS$1,100.

Kheng claims that the licensed trade is unfairly blamed and targeted for underage sales. Last year he launched an e-petition calling for tougher action on under-18s who attempt to purchase alcohol.

However, Kheng admitted to being impressed by what he saw in Australia, and thinks that the threat of tougher action on bar staff could have a positive impact in the UK.

“I think people will start to think about what they are doing behind the bar,” said Kheng. “I saw a lot more vigilance around underage drinking (in Australia), and I think it is something we should be knocking on the door of Government about.

“I know from my experience of working in pubs that you can train your staff as much as you like, but at the end of the day they are human beings and all human beings make mistakes. There were lots of things that really impressed me about what they (Australians) do around alcohol-related issues.”

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