A new NHS report called Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England 2018 examined where 11 to 15-year-olds acquire and buy alcohol.
Only 3% of school pupils who had obtained alcohol in the past four weeks had done so at a pub in 2018. There was an incremental increase of 1% on the 2016 figure.
This means that a pub was the least likely way of a school pupil getting alcohol, alongside stealing from a friend’s home or stealing from somewhere else.
Some 10% of the pupils who said they drank alcohol said they usually did this at a pub or bar – while 66% said they were most likely to do so in their own home.
Just under a third (32%) of underage drinkers said they had been bought alcohol by someone else in the last month, the highest cited method.
The research found that a total of 17% school pupils said they usually drank alcohol at least once a month.
Drinkaware chief executive Elaine Hindal said operators should be vigilant in ensuring children did not access alcohol at pubs.
“It is good to see that pubs are the places where underage drinkers are least likely to acquire alcohol, and we applaud the work undertaken by hospitality operators to achieve this outcome.
“However, the industry cannot be complacent. Younger drinkers are at greater risk of a range of alcohol-related harms to their physical and mental health.”
Alcohol licensing law firm Poppleston Allen outlined its advice to operators on how to have a strong age verification policy in The Morning Advertiser earlier in the year.
“It is absolutely vital then that not only is an age verification policy in place but that it is appropriate for your venue, adhered to and fully trained in to all stats,” they pressed.
Hindal added: “We urge all operators to make use of the many excellent schemes available, such as PASS, which offer a reliable and robust way for bar staff to avoid selling illegally to underage customers.
“Staff training is also key to ensure all team members are fully aware of their obligations and the tools available to help them.”
The organisation has a free poster that details the dangers of underage drinking, which it said could be incorporated into staff training. It can be downloaded here.