Retailers have slammed a new report linking underage drinking with the density of off-licences outside London.

A new report by Alcohol Concern – dubbed One On Every Corner – claimed there was a “moderate but statistically significant” link between the number of off-licences in a given area and hospital admissions due to alcohol.

But the Association of Convenience Stores said the report did not mean the number of off-licences should be restricted.

“There are already tough alcohol licensing laws in place and any premises that is deemed to be a risk of supplying alcohol to under-18s can have their licence restricted or removed,” said Shane Brennan of the ACS.

“The management practice of the individual business should be the determining factor in whether they get an alcohol licence, not an arbitrary estimate about there being too many existing alcohol retailers.”

He added: “We have seen great success in recent years where businesses, communities and the local authorities come together to bear down on underage drinking.

“Successful initiatives like Community Alcohol Partnerships are the way to provide sustainable solutions and we will be urging ministers to focus on continuing this success when they prepare their new alcohol strategy.”

Alcohol Concern chief executive Don Shenker stated: “It is a sobering thought that the numbers of off-licences in any one area has an impact on under-18s drinking and ending up in hospital.

“It is a failing of the current system that so many licences are being granted without due consideration to young people’s health.”

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