10 December 2008>
Premises that sell alcohol to youngsters "by proxy", that is, when alcohol is purchased for young people by an adult, are being targeted in a brand new campaign, led by the Safer Caerphilly Community Safety Partnership.
The partnership, which incorporates organisations including Caerphilly County Borough Council and Gwent Police, has established reducing the harm caused by alcohol as one of the key strategic priorities for the next three years.
The campaign is focussing on targeting off licenses throughout the Caerphilly county borough, which in addition to increased interaction between off licenses and Trading Standards and Gwent Police, has also included the distribution of informative posters and other promotional items to the premises, highlighting the laws surrounding proxy sales of alcohol.
These posters are to be displayed prominently on the premises, and will act as both a warning and a deterrent to people that if they do choose to purchase alcohol on behalf of an under 18, they will be liable for a fine of up to £5,000.
Phil Webb, owner of Llanarth Stores, Pontllanfraith said, "I think this new proxy sales publicity campaign is an excellent idea. As a licensee I am fully committed to ensuring that alcohol purchased from my premises does not get into the hands of youngsters by any means, and continuing to be a responsible retailer.
This new publicity campaign should also appeal to those attempting to purchase the alcohol on behalf of under 18's from off licenses, by warning them that it is an offence to do so, and that proprietors are working in close partnership with Trading Standards and the Police in helping to prevent proxy purchases from occurring."
A survey conducted for responsible drinking campaigners, The Portman Group shows that nationally, almost one third of adults have been asked to buy alcohol on behalf of someone under the age of 18.
Shockingly, of those who had been asked, over one third admitted to buying alcohol for a minor.
Cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Lyn Ackerman said, "Tackling proxy purchasing is vital if we are to stop alcohol getting into the hands of youngsters. Those who buy alcohol on behalf of children need to know that they are committing a serious offence, which has consequences for the entire community.
Off licenses must also ensure that they and their customers are aware that proxy purchasing is illegal, and that they are doing all they can to prevent it and fulfil their duties as a responsible retailer. This brand new campaign aims to ensure exactly that."
Chair of the Safer Caerphilly Community Safety Partnership, Chief Superintendent Alun Thomas said, "Underage drinking is an aggravating factor in violence and anti social behaviour in our communities, and we take it extremely seriously. We work closely with our colleagues in Trading Standards to carry out visits and test purchase operations at off licenses in the county borough. We are sympathetic to the problems facing some off licenses with the problem of "proxy sales".
The support of responsible retailers is vital and over the coming weeks and months we will be working with them to address their concerns. I would like to reinforce the message that, not only is it extremely irresponsible for adults to buy alcohol on behalf of under 18s, they are also breaking the law. Ignorance is not an excuse and we will be taking strong action against offenders."
The Safer Caerphilly Community Safety Partnership is also committed to supporting the national "Enough is Enough" campaign on binge drinking.
According to a study by the University of Edinburgh, in partnership with the World Health Organisation, Wales has the highest level of teenage drinking in Europe.
It is campaigns such as this current "Proxy Sales" campaign in the Caerphilly county borough that are helping to put a stop to this.
For further information, contact Trading Standards on 01495 235 291.
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