20 June 2012>
The owners of a Rhymney shop have been taken to court and fined for allowing the sale of alcohol to two children under the age of 18, during a multi-agency test purchase operation.
At Abergavenny Magistrates Court on 11th June, husband and wife David John Harris and Karen Louise Harris, who trade as Spike's Shop, Brynteg Crescent, Rhymney, were found guilty of two offences of selling alcohol to children.
The prosecution arose from a joint test purchase operation between Trading Standards, Community Safety Wardens and Gwent Police on 3rd March 2011.
Mr and Mrs Harris were each fined £180 for the offence of selling alcohol to a 16 year old boy, and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £400 each to the council, along with a victim surcharge of £15. No additional penalty was ordered for the second offence of selling alcohol to a 15 year old girl.
Karen Harris, the Premises Licence Holder and Designated Premises Supervisor had previously been convicted at Caerphilly Magistrates in July 2010, following a sale to an underage child in March 2010 after a test purchase exercise. On this occasion she was fined £525 and ordered to pay costs of £357.45.
Since that conviction, both police and Trading Standards had received intelligence that alcohol was still being sold systematically to children who were known to the owners. Coupled with a rise in anti social behaviour in the area attributed to underage drinking, with increasing amounts of alcohol being seized from children, especially on Friday evenings, a joint operation was set up.
Surveillance of the premises by Community Safety Wardens, Police and Trading Standards was undertaken which entailed suspected under age purchasers being stopped by police and the alcohol being confiscated.
Cllr Dave Poole, Cabinet Member for Community and Leisure Services said, "The tireless efforts of our Trading Standards team, along with our colleagues at Gwent Police and our team of Community Safety Wardens, ensure our children do not have access to alcohol, protecting them from harm, while also safeguarding local residents from the anti social behaviour and crime caused by under age drinking."
"Licence holders have a responsibilty to check the identification of any purchaser who looks under age. I hope this successful prosecution sends out a clear message to the very small minority of licence holders who fail to take their licensing responsibilities seriously, that they will not get away with it".
Rhymney Neighbourhood Policing Team Ward Officer, PC Ryan Hill said, "This is an excellent result achieved through partnership working to tackle the problem of anti-social behaviour in Rhymney. Many of the issues were believed to have been linked to this premises resulting in drunken youths causing problems on and around the High Street in Rhymney. Since this operation was carried out calls to the police have reduced dramatically. Police are continuing patrols in the area, particularly on weekends, and will deal positively with any persons causing problems."
In addition to bringing the prosecution against Mr and Mrs Harris, Caerphilly County Borough Council's Trading Standards team also sought a review of the licence held by Karen Harris to sell alcohol. This review took place on 13 December 2011. On hearing evidence from Trading Standards and Gwent Police, the Caerphilly County Borough Council Licensing Sub Committee revoked Mrs Harris' Licence to sell alcohol.
To report a premises for selling alcohol to those under the age of 18 in Caerphilly county borough, please contact Caerphilly County Borough Council's Trading Standards team on 01495 235 291.
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