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50% drop in prosecutions for selling alcohol to children

March 17, 2009 1:04 PM
By Charles West

Only 5 retailers in the West Mercia Police area were prosecuted for selling alcohol to children. The number of people being prosecuted for selling alcohol to children has dropped by 50% over the last year, while the numbers given a penalty notice have risen hugely, according to figures revealed by the Liberal Democrats.

The information, contained in a Parliamentary answer, shows that:

· Across the country the number of people issued with penalty notices has risen by 74% over two years

· The total number of people caught selling alcohol to children has increased by 36% over the last two years, with 12 people now caught every day

· The chances of being prosecuted have halved with only 1 in 6 people ending up in court, down from 1 in 3 in 2005

· The maximum fine for selling alcohol to children is £5,000 but the average amount currently imposed is only £369

Dr Charles West Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Shrewsbury and Atcham said:

"The Government continues to turn a blind eye to the horrendous problems that excessive alcohol consumption is creating in our society.

"Yet again ministers have been spending their time competing with the Tories to sound tough rather than trying to effectively tackle the problem of underage drinking.

"The Government said it would crack down on this problem but instead offenders are barely even getting a slap on the wrist.

"It's hardly surprising that so many parents are failing to stop children getting their hands on alcohol when unscrupulous shopkeepers have so little to fear from breaking the law.

"The Government needs to make sure that anyone caught selling alcohol to children should expect to lose their licence."


Charles West
Parliamentary Candidate: Shrewsbury and Atcham Liberal Democrats
3 Bellstone
Shrewsbury, SY1 1HU
tel:    07775 800744

Notes to Editors

1. For analysis of the figures relating to the number of prosecutions and PDNs over the last three years for which information is available please see attached spreadsheet. The original parliamentary answer can be found here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2009-02-03b.249974.h&s=persistently+selling+alcohol#g249974.r0

2. The maximum fine for the offence of selling alcohol to children is £5,000 but Parliamentary Answers have revealed that the average fine imposed is only £369:


3. 1 in every 7 PDN's for selling alcohol to a person under-18 were not paid in 2007: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2009-01-19b.244969.h&s=%22selling+alcohol%22+and+%22under+18%22#g244969.q0

4. The latest licensing stats showed that only 170 licences out of 195,500 were revoked last year (this includes all offences not just for selling alcohol to childrens):http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/research/AE-Statistics-bulletin-2008.pdf

5. This is despite the fact that the Government has repeatedly claimed that they were going to get tough with shops selling children alcohol:

In 2005, Gordon Brown said:

"One thing that worries me most is the number of shops and off-licences selling to people under 18

"We have to tighten up the penalties. Any shop that is selling to under-18s twice in three months should lose its licence. At the moment it is three sales in three months but we have to go further.

"If someone is selling to under-18s they are allowing these problems of binge drinking to grow and they are giving young people the worst possible start in life.

"Binge drinking is not acceptable in any society. People are worried about the effects of it and the effect on young people in particular."


In 2007 Gordon Brown said:

"…let me tell the shops that repeatedly sell alcohol to those who are under age - we will take your licences away."


6. Analysis of the most recent Offending, Crime and Justice survey showed over 350,000 children aged 10-17 had purchased alcohol in shops. It also showed that 28.8% (215,000) of children who drank every week went on to commit a violent offence. http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/offending_survey.html

Download Under.age.sales-regional.stats