South Tyneside Council has taken action to prevent an off licence from continuing to sell alcohol to underage children.
Sims Corner, in Stanhope Road, West Park, has had its licence suspended for a three month period, following a hearing of South Tyneside Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee, on Friday, March 4.
The suspension became effective last week following the expiry of the appeal period.
The sub-committee heard that the South Shields general dealer and off licence had sold alcohol to minors on two separate occasions during test purchase operations.
In the latest incident, which took place last August, a 1.5 litre bottle of wine was sold to a 16-year-old.
Enquires by South Tyneside Council’s trading standards team found that the licence holder and store supervisor were failing to exercise sufficient control over the day-to-day running of the business and to prevent underage sales.
As well as the temporary licence suspension, the sub-committee agreed to impose a number of conditions on the licence.
These included requirements to have a written Challenge 25 policy in place, to provide staff training and to ensure that the CCTV system remains fully operational.
Members also ordered the removal of the current designated premises supervisor from the licence and imposed a further condition that a personal licence holder must be present at the premises for at least five working days per week to supervise alcohol sales.
Councillor Ken Stephenson, who chaired the sub-committee, said: “We will not tolerate the sale of alcohol to young people under 18.
“Not only it is harmful to minors health, it is also against the law.
“Following this operation between our trading standards team and Northumbria Police, the sub-committee considered it necessary to exercise its power to suspend the licence for three months to allow the premises to fully reconsider its operational practices in complying with the law.
“We hope that this action will serve as a warning to any licensed premises that attempt to sell alcohol either directly or indirectly to those who are underage.
“The link between alcohol, disorder and crime is well-documented, and one of the ways the council is working to reduce alcohol-related anti-social behaviour is by preventing alcohol getting into the hands of young people.
“It is hoped that this result will also help to deter further incidents of disorder in the local area.”
The action is the result of partnership working between South Tyneside Council and Northumbria Police.
Chief Inspector Jerry Pearson, of the Southern Area Command, said: “We are pleased with the decision of the licensing sub-committee to suspend this shop’s licence to sell alcohol and impose conditions.
“We believe it sends a clear message to businesses that they must take their responsibilities seriously to ensure that children are not able to buy alcohol from shops in South Tyneside.
“We know that under 18s who drink alcohol are more likely to become involved in anti-social behaviour and that by drinking they can also make themselves vulnerable to harm.
“Our officers work closely with trading standards officers to carry out regular checks on licensed premises and this partnership work will continue.”
The licence suspension period will end on Wednesday, June 29, and from that date onwards it will be lawful for alcohol to be sold at the premises, subject to the operation of the existing and newly attached conditions.
Members of the public are encouraged to report underage alcohol sales to Trading Standards on the confidential hotline 0800 093 5878 or contact their local neighbourhood policing team on 101.
For further information about the work of Trading Standards visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/tradingstandards.