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Supermarkets and convenience stores in a Home Office-backed trial of age verification technology have reported not a single underaged customer was permitted to buy alcohol.

Last year Morrisons, Co-op, Tesco and Asda launched trials of digital age estimation tech from provider Yoti, while three Bestway Retail premises – Bargain Booze, Tippl and Wine Rack in Leeds – tested a similar solution from Innovative Technology.

The supermarkets using Yoti tech had facial scan technology installed at self-service checkouts, which estimated a customer’s age and refused any customers deemed to be under 25, alerting a staff member to perform a manual age check. The Bestway stores trial worked in a similar way, with green or red lights alerting cashiers as to whether they needed to request ID.

The participating retailers confirmed their support of digital age verification, and said they would welcome legislative change to permit it.

The British Retail Consortium has also backed the technology, saying it would make stores safer.

“The BRC has long campaigned for digital age estimation technology to be used to verify a person’s age for the purchase of alcohol,” said Tom Ironside, director of business regulation at the BRC.

“With incidents of violence and abuse against retail staff sharply rising, the technology would help to make stores a safer place to work and shop.”

The technology is already used for other age-restricted products such as tobacco and knives, but not yet permitted to screen customers attempting to purchase alcohol, the most purchased age-restricted product.

“There is no reason this cannot also be extended to alcohol sales,” Ironside said.

The Home Office and Office for Product Safety & Standards, which ran the trials, said “there is appetite” for the technology to verify alcohol shopper ages.

However, the trials found the technology was “sensitive to a number of environmental factors that could impact on reliability” such as the positioning of cameras relative to bright light.

“Licence holders will need to consider carefully if age verification technologies can work in their premises to realise the benefits consistently,” the Home Office said.

“The work was an important step to further understanding what needs to be in place to successfully embed age verification technologies into an existing robust monitoring and enforcement licensing regime,” it added.