Sir; Phil Thomas’ letter (Retail’s role in curbing alcohol abuse, The Grocer, September 25, p28) is a typical head-in-sand response from officialdom.
While I agree with him that retailers have to play their part in curbing alcohol abuse in youngsters, the problem of anti-social behaviour will not go away that easily. It’s easy to criticise retailers. We are front line troops without any supply lines. What is the government doing about ID cards and police response times when we are verbally or physically abused for refusing to sell alcohol to underage children?
Give us real ammunition in the form of ID cards and assured police response.
I take issue with the fact that anti-social behaviour is portrayed as a youth problem. It is not. Nightclubs are the chief source of such behaviour by offering admission for as little as £15 and all you can drink until closing time. No wonder that at kicking out time there are fights and police manpower is taken away from our villages and towns and deployed in the cities.
I suggest Mr Thomas sends his storm troopers into these clubs. But that would be hard work, and he would probably end up with a riot on his hands. It’s far easier to pick on shopkeepers who do not have the huge lobbying power of big business.
The blame for anti-social behaviour lies at the door of successive governments, not retailers. First they tell us there is no such thing as society, then they tell us there is. Many countries in Europe are more relaxed about selling alcohol and cigarettes to youngsters, with surprisingly few problems.
Anti-social behaviour may have risen in Britain for a variety of reasons. What we need is open debate and not knee-jerk reactions.
Last, The Grocer should be applauded for printing the photos of the girls who visited my store. This highlighted the reality of test-purchasing for the farce that it sometimes degenerates into. If no one polices the police, then we are into Orwell’s 1984 nightmare.