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Police suggest revoking newsagents’ licence

By Mark Cardwell | Great Barr | Crime | Published:

Police said a newsagents’ licence should be revoked or suspended after the owner was caught selling booze to a 15-year-old girl.

Google Street View image of Brooklyn News in Birdbrook Road, Great Barr. Credit: Google

PC Abdool Rohomon from West Midlands Police spoke at a Birmingham City Council licensing sub-committee hearing today into the licence of Brooklyn News in Birdbrook Road, Great Barr.

Trading Standards carried out an undercover sting involving two female volunteers aged 14 and 15 in February.

Paramjit Singh, the premises licence holder (PLH) and designated premises supervisor (DPS), was seen selling two bottles of WKD Blue to the 15-year-old without asking for ID.

The sub-committee was told Mr Singh had previously been advised about the law on selling alcohol and tobacco to under-18-year-olds.

At the hearing, Rob Edge, representing the shop, suggested conditions could be put in place to stop a repeat of the incident alongside a voluntary suspension of the licence.

The conditions include a “Challenge 25” proof of age scheme, staff training and record keeping, the use of a refusals register and CCTV.

But PC Rohomon said the conditions did not go far enough, and said the committee should consider revoking the licence entirely.

He said: “How would CCTV stop the PLH and DLS, who is one and the same, from serving to an under-age child? It wouldn’t have done.

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“CCTV doesn’t do a scan of the person to show that person is under-age. It’s just a recording facility.

“Training – this owner is premises holder and DPS. What training does he need? If he needs training, how on earth does he have a personal licence? Because he shouldn’t have one.

“Surely someone who has qualified and passed a course and knows what they should be doing, shouldn’t be holding that licence if he then needs retraining again.

“It makes a mockery of the fact he has a qualification in the first place to actually sell alcohol and you put that trust in him.

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“It wasn’t one of his members of staff who did the sale, it was him and him alone that did it.

“Challenge 25 – he confirmed Challenge 25 posters were already up. So what’s the point of having Challenge 25 posters as a condition? He has them up already and he didn’t do it.

“You have got no evidence of due diligence presented to you by the premises, you have got no books presented to you to say look how many people were refused on a weekly basis.

“I don’t know what he has done with the advice [from Trading Standards] but clearly he hasn’t read it or he hasn’t taken it on board, because – where’s the refusals books?

"Where’s the information given to him to show to you he’s taken it seriously.

“How will the measures recommended by Mr Edge solve this issue? In my eyes they will not.

“I would recommend that you are looking at suspension or you are looking at a revocation in these circumstances.”

Mr Edge, representing the shop, said Mr Singh’s sale of the alcohol to the under-age customer was down to a “lapse of concentration”.

Mr Edge said: “The PLH had asked me to apologise for his error.

“He realises the seriousness of the offence and given the chance he intends to turn the business around and strongly promote the licensing objectives.

“This will be well-demonstrated by his willingness to employ the services of a consultant to deliver comprehensive training, a suite of conditions to be added to the operating schedule an during the period of a voluntary closure, the opportunity to revamp everything and put it in place as it should have been.

“We trust you will see this as a very silly mistake on the part of the premises and one which they will demonstrate they can learn from.

“There have been no complaints received from responsible authorities in relation to this premises during a 15-year period.

“He admits to taking his eye off the ball and deeply regrets the mistake.

“We also believe that it was serious and have offered a voluntary suspension and we believe this is the best method of turning things around and that revocation would be far too severe for a first offence in any circumstances within an off-sales premises.”

A decision will be announced by the sub-committee at a later date.

Mark Cardwell

By Mark Cardwell
Reporter - @mlrcardwell

Local Democracy Reporter covering Birmingham.

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