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Top tips: stay on top of underage sales

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

ID check: Knowing the minimum date of birth is vital
ID check: Knowing the minimum date of birth is vital

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Two of the most prevalent issues at Christmas office party events are underage sales and customer intoxication.

Here are some tips to help remind you how to mitigate the risks:

Businesses of all types employ staff under the age of 18. Although it is not an offence for young persons (aged 16 or 17) to be in a licensed premises unaccompanied, there may be specific conditions on a premises licence restricting access of under-18s. In addition, there are obviously offences relating to serving alcohol to under-18s. This includes proxy sales

Many premises will operate with SIA registered door staff around Christmas. Staff should be aware that the responsibility for age verification does not end with the door staff. Those working inside the premises need to be vigilant and ensure they are also challenging customers in accordance with the premises’ age verification policy

Staff should be trained to check ID properly. It sounds obvious but the basics can sometimes be forgotten – ensure staff know the minimum date of birth for 18, check the photograph and that it is an approved form of ID, such as a passport, driving licence or with the approved PASS hologram

Staff should be aware it is an offence to allow those under 18 to play age-restricted gaming machines on site. Gaming machines need to be under the supervision of staff and it is worth bearing in mind there has been a spike in authorities carrying out test purchases on such machines

Staff should monitor customers while they patrol the premises to look out for any potential underage drinking and not just wait for customers to come to the bar. is will help prevent proxy sales

Regular monitoring of customer areas also means staff are likely to spot the signs of intoxication

It is advisable to have an intoxication policy in place and think carefully about any promotions you are running over the festive period. Irresponsible drinks promotions encourage excessive drinking and are banned under the mandatory conditions

Identifying intoxicated customers can be difficult but staff would be expected to look out for signs such as drowsiness, loud or boisterous behaviour and a lack of co-ordination

Dealing with and refusing service to intoxicated customers can be a delicate matter. We typically advise this to be done by senior members of staff. The premises owes a duty of care to customers and it is advisable to have a welfare and vulnerability policy in place that includes how to deal with intoxicated customers

An effective – and often popular – way of preventing customers from becoming intoxicated is to provide complimentary bowls of chips, roast potatoes or similar bar snacks

For any legal enquiries please visit Poppleston Allen's website​.

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