The busy Christmas trading period and families with children in pubs can increase risk of falling foul of the law around children in pubs. Here are some tips to mitigate risks:
- Regular training for staff on the law, responsibilities and offences and preventing underage sales and how to verify a customer’s age. That training should be recorded for evidence of due diligence and do not let staff sell alcohol until they have had the training.
- Ensure staff understand conditions attached to the premises licence and any policy around children in the pub and that this is being enforced.
- Have a robust age verification policy to prevent underage sales. It’s a mandatory condition on premises licences selling alcohol to have this anyway and your DPS should implement it. Consider a Challenge 21 (or 25) policy where staff are required to ask those who appear under 21 or 25 for ID; doing this will ensure you challenge people who are under 18 but look older.
- Age verification training should include what constitute acceptable forms of ID and how to spot fake ID.
- ID should have a photograph, date of birth, and a holographic or ultra violet mark and acceptable ID includes photographic driving licence, a passport or a proof of age card, such as the Proof of Age Standards Scheme PASS card bearing the PASS hologram, or Military ID.
- Spotting false ID: False ID may be a forgery, genuine ID that has been falsely obtained or altered such as changing the photo or date of birth or it could be genuine ID that does not belong to the person using it.
- Be vigilant to imposters or for example a person using their sibling’s ID. Staff should look for any distinguishing features (such as moles or scars) to correctly identify the person. If in doubt, you can always ask whether the person has another document showing the same name.
- Look carefully at the ID, any signs it has been tampered (oddly stuck photo, smudges, misspellings, print quality).
- Check the UV mark, hologram or watermarks making sure they are standard format.
- Calculate the person’s date of birth to check they are over age, ask them questions such as their age on their next birthday or zodiac sign.
- The Home Office has produced guidance on False ID and how to deal with it which is useful for reference.
Remember staff that make an underage sale do have a defence if they asked for ID and the ID was not obviously false – so staff training is crucial to be able to rely on that defence.
- Have a refusals register, maintained and checked regularly. This will allow you to check your staff understand the training and are taking their responsibilities seriously; and help you prove you are running a responsible business as part of any mitigation if an underage sale occurs.