Prosecuted for under-age drink sales

A Hackney shopkeeper has been convicted of selling alcohol to minors, in a crackdown by Hackney Council and the Police.

Mrs Rilaben Patel, licensee of Southwold Express, 31 Southwold Road, E5, pleaded guilty at Thames Magistrates Court on Thursday, 14 May to one charge of supplying alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years, a criminal offence under the Licensing Act 2003.

In a bid to curb underage drinking and anti-social behaviour in the borough, the Council’s Trading Standards Service and the Police carry out a programme of undercover ‘test purchase’ operations throughout the year to tackle the illegal sale of alcohol to under 18-year-olds.

Two volunteers, both aged 16, accompanied by Trading Standards Officers and Police, visited seven premises in one day. In Southwold Express they were able to buy two bottles of Smirnoff Ice.

Mrs Patel admitted the boys looked under 18 years of age. She explained staff received training but there were no procedures in place to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors, such as Challenge 21 – an automatic request for any person who looks 21 or younger to show photographic identification proving their age.

Mrs Patel was ordered to pay a fine of £200.00 plus costs of £200.00 and £15.00 surcharge.

Cllr Alan Laing, Hackney Council s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Selling alcohol to kids is illegal and irresponsible. Apart from the health issues linked to underage drinking, it puts our young people at risk. Shopkeepers know the law and those who choose to ignore it should know we will prosecute them and take them to court.

Shopkeepers who sell alcohol and other restricted products, such as knives, can get an advice pack from the Council’s Trading Standards team on 020 8356 4929.