Enforcement officers today warned shopkeepers to be vigilant on underage alcohol sales after a businessman was handed a court bill of more than £1,400 for breaking the law.
Devendrasinh Parmar, who owns Bradford Street News in Walsall, was hauled before Walsall Magistrates Court and admitted selling alcohol to a youth.
It comes as officers from the council, trading standards, police and other agencies worked to educate people about the impact of drinking too much during Alcohol Awareness Week last week.
The 53-year-old owner of the off-licence in Bradford Street, had sold alcohol to a youth on December 17 last year. Parmar, of Great Barr, was fined £200, ordered to pay costs of £1,244.09 and a victim surcharge of £20 by magistrates.
Walsall Trading Standards said it carried out regular test purchasing operations following complaints about possible underage sales of age-restricted goods including alcohol, tobacco and fireworks.
An underage volunteer is used during the operations while officers observe from outside licensed premises.
All traders selling age restricted goods are visited on a regular basis and provided with information booklets, posters and stickers and advised to adhere to the principle ‘no card, no sale’.
During Alcohol Awareness Week, the council helped to organised a number of initiatives including an A-frame trailer featuring billboards about the dangers of excessive drinking positioned in Walsall town centre along with electronic scrolling messages.
Council leader Mike Bird said: “We have been working closely with off licence owners and managers to reduce the number of youths who buy and drink alcohol in the borough.
“Off licences face hefty financial penalties if they get caught selling alcohol to someone under the age of 18 so it is always better to ‘Challenge 25’ and refuse to sell to someone who cannot produce ID.” Challenge 25 is a scheme that encourages anyone who is over 18 but looks under 25 to carry acceptable ID when they want to buy alcohol.
It builds on the Challenge 21 campaign introduced by the British Beer and Pub Association, which represents the beer and pub sector, in 2005.
It is now run by the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group, which represents alcohol retailers. Traders can get advice and guidance on how to avoid selling alcohol to children and young people by contacting trading standards on 01922 653040 and more information is available at www.drinkaware.co.uk
Mr Parmar declined to comment.