Advice: Adhere to age check routine

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Slick tip:ensure PASS cards are smooth to the touch
Slick tip:ensure PASS cards are smooth to the touch

Related tags Age verification policy Identity theft Wine Identity document

Now the busy Christmas period is out of the way, it is worth reminding your staff about their legal responsibilities in terms of selling alcohol to any person under the age of 18.

It is an offence to either sell, or knowingly allow the sale, of alcohol to a person who is under the age of 18.

Even the exception relating to table meals, where beer, wine and cider can be consumed at a table meal by a 16 or 17-year-old, only applies to beer, wine or cider purchased by an adult for consumption by that person with a meal in a restaurant area.

There is a legal defence for a person who sells, or knowingly allows the sale of alcohol to a person under the age of 18, namely that they used all reasonable steps or precautions to establish an individual’s age, and evidence of that is if he or she asked for identification which would have convinced a reasonable person.

The mandatory age verification condition that applies to all licensed premises, requires that any form of identification accepted by a member of staff must show the bearer’s photograph, date of birth and a holographic or ultraviolet mark.

The Home Office published false ID guidance in July 2012, which is useful and encourages licensed premises to accept the PASS hologram as well as military identification. The document also points to a five-step checking process that staff should follow when checking for false ID:

  • Check the PASS hologram, making sure it is in the standard format, and that it is flush with the plastic of the card and not stuck on to it
  • Check that the photograph is of the person presenting the card and, again, not stuck on top of the plastic, but printed directly on to
  • the card
  • Check the person’s date of birth. Just because they have an identification card does not mean that they are necessarily 18 or over. It is sensible to have a date of birth reminder on or by the till, prompting staff of the date they are to look for on any identification card to ensure the individual is over 18. Obviously such date will need to be changed daily.
  • Ensure that the card has not in any way been tampered with, and that it is completely smooth
  • If you are still uncertain as to the validity of any documentation, you should refuse service

Staff should, therefore, check for any evidence of fraudulent use of a card or tampering with a card.

Remember, simply because there are door staff on duty, that does not negate the legal obligation on bar staff to check for individuals’ ages.
Remember also, you must have an age verification policy in place for the premises, and it is sensible to have this in writing.

The policy should include reference to either a Challenge 21 or Challenge 25 policy;

Ensure that age verification policy is drilled into all staff, and that full records of their training are kept on site to show to the authorities, should the need arise.

Related topics Licensing law

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