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Teenage test purchase volunteers needed to crack down on underage sales

John Freeman
Teenagers are being asked to help in the crack down on underage alcohol sales by signing up to be a test purchaser.

During operations run by police and Trading Standards, teenage test purchasers enter pubs and off-licences in the Lancaster and Morecambe area to see if staff will challenge them and ask for identification when they try to buy alcohol.

Workers who go on to sell the alcohol to the teens are fined £80, while the licensee has to undergo a police surgery, where they are reminded of their responsibilities when it comes to preventing underage sales.

Repeat offenders risk losing their licence to sell alcohol.

During the latest test purchase operation in Lancaster, which was carried out earlier this month, four out of nine pubs sold alcohol to the two 16-year-old female test purchasers.

Officers are now looking for new test purchasers to assist them in further operations. Volunteers must be aged 13 – 16, must look their age and be willing to take part for around five hours on an occasional basis.

Parental consent must be given. Full training is given; volunteers are supervised at all times and will be collected from, and returned to their home addresses. Refreshments are provided and participants are provided with a small gratuity for their efforts.

PC Julia Whitehead, licensing, said: “Test purchasers are often teens who are interested in a career in the police force or similar.

“Selling alcohol to underage children is not only against the law but it can also put these youngsters at serious risk of harm, which is why it is important to carry out these operations and makes sure staff, managers and licensees are aware of their responsibilities.”

More details on becoming a test purchaser will be given out at a special information evening in the near future.

• Please e-mail and with your name, address, date of birth and your parents name and contact number and a brief paragraph as to why you are interested in becoming a test purchaser.