Off licences banned from selling drink following underage sales

Vicky's Supermarket.
Vicky's Supermarket.
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Two shops in Seaham have lost their licences to sell alcohol following a crackdown on underage sales.

The two premises which had their licences revoked are High Colliery Post Office in Stockton Road and Vicky’s Supermarket in Marlborough.

High Colliery Post Office.

High Colliery Post Office.

A licensing committee hearing at Durham County Council heard a bottle of vodka had been seized by the local beat police from a young person in November 2015 and the bar code had helped them trace the bottle back to High Colliery Post Office.

A fixed penalty notice was issued to the seller, but in January 2016 the council’s consumer protection service followed up on the incident as part of a test purchasing exercise with the police named Operation Firebird.

On this occasion a 15-year-old child volunteer was served with a bottle of wine by the same employee, despite having no ID.

Despite representations from the premise licence holder the committee was not convinced that the necessary systems and procedures were in place to prevent further illegal sales

and revoked the licence.

The committee also heard representations concerning Vicky’s Supermarket which in January 2016 had sold alcohol to a 15-year-old child volunteer on two occasions within a

week during the same test purchase exercise.

The premises licence holder voluntarily surrendered his licence just before the committee hearing took place, but the committee heard the review in his absence and agreed to

revoke the licence.

The applications to review the premise licences were made on the grounds of protecting children from harm and the prevention of crime and disorder.

The committee can revoke the licence, suspend it, ask for certain conditions to be added to the licence or take no action.

Joanne Waller, head of environment, health and consumer protection at the county council, said: "These revocations by the licensing committee send out a clear message to those licenced premises which fail to take seriously their responsibility to manage their premises effectively and to put in place robust measures to prevent underage sales.

"Intelligence surrounding young people and abuse of alcohol in the Seaham area prompted a concerted effort from the police and our consumer protection service to tackle these problems, finally resulting in these review hearings.

“Allowing young people access to alcohol can often have serious consequences for their safety and wellbeing and we shall continue to take action against any licenced premises which contribute to this problem."

Sgt Mick Urwin, from Durham Constabulary’s harm reduction unit, said: “Underage sales of alcohol is an issue we take extremely seriously along with our partners.

“Underage drinking is a contributing factor to anti-social behaviour which affects our communities.

“Where intelligence is received that indicates illegal sales are being made, we will act against those licensees who in doing so are displaying an irresponsible attitude in the way they manage their premises and failing to promote the four licensing objectives.

“The action taken by the licensing committee clearly indicates that instances such as these will be dealt with robustly and that licensees and their staff must remain vigilant at all times and take their responsibilities seriously.”

Anyone with information relating to the sale of alcohol to young people is encouraged to either call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 11 or County Durham Consumer Protection team

on 03000 261016, or email Durham Constabulary: aries@durham.pnn.police.uk.