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Underage drinking: staying vigilant during summer holidays

Top tips: Poppleston Allen issues advice on how to stay vigilant around underage drinking during the summer holidays (image: Getty/andresr)
Top tips: Poppleston Allen issues advice on how to stay vigilant around underage drinking during the summer holidays (image: Getty/andresr)

Related tags Licensing Health and safety

The summer holidays bring an influx of customers to pubs and restaurants, creating a lively and bustling atmosphere. However, this busy season also comes with its own challenges, specifically the prevention of underage sales.

One common issue is understanding the legal regulations concerning children on licensed premises. To help, we have compiled a list of tips to minimise the chances of underage drinking on your premises:

1. Strengthen ID verification procedures

Licence holders must ensure that an Age Verification Policy applies to the premises. At a minimum, this should require all individuals who appear to be under the age of 18 years to produce ID on request before being served alcohol.
The identification must include their photograph, date of birth and either a holographic mark or ultraviolet feature. Acceptable forms of ID include passports, photo card driving licences, PASS-approved cards or military IDs. For higher-risk premises, using an ID/club scan can be very effective in eliminating underage sales.

2. Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS)

The DPS must ensure that staff members are aware of the Age Verification Policy and ensure it is being applied consistently by staff members.

Both Challenge 21 and Challenge 25 schemes can provide greater protection for staff as opposed to the minimum legal requirement to challenge anyone who appears to be under 18.

3. Staff training

Staff members must understand their legal obligations. Therefore, it is important to provide training before they start working at your premises and ensure refresher training is regularly provided. Additionally, it is best practice for operators to keep a record of the training and have staff members sign to ensure that they have understood it.
 
If staff members do sell alcohol to minors, they risk breaching their legal requirements, resulting in personal liability and a fine of £90 within 21 days.

4. Adequate staff numbers

No age verification policy can be effective if there is an imbalance between the customers and staff members. Operators should ensure that there are sufficient staff members to properly assess the age of potential buyers and that senior management is available to assist if the situation becomes heated.
Staff should also remain vigilant about the age profiles of groups of customers to prevent adults from purchasing alcohol for underage individuals.

5. Signage

Operators should consider the culture of your premises, their promotional materials (both printed and online), and the drinks and promotions they offer. If these attract a younger crowd, your policies and procedures will need to be more robust.

Hopefully, the above will help you remain vigilant during the summer holidays, or at any other time of the year.

One additional point to consider which is not covered in this article but often causes confusion, is the issue of under 18s serving alcohol. For guidance on employing 16 year olds behind your bar​, refer to this guide drafted by our licensing solicitors.

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