Retailers can stop young people purchasing alcohol by displaying Challenge 21 posters and asking for ID. But they must also ensure that their staff are properly trained and constantly on the alert

Andrew Opie
Food policy director, British Retail Consortium

Challenge 21 is the simplest and most effective method for retailers to stop underage sales by asking anyone who looks younger than 21 for official identification.

Retailers should also put up signs to show customers they are serious about deterring youngsters from trying to buy alcohol.
They also need to make sure their staff know about age recognition.

Retailers should also remind staff of the importance of checking IDs or they risk losing their licence to sell alcohol.

It can be hard for a shopkeeper to deal with groups of youths trying to buy booze so it is useful to engage the help of the local police. Make it clear you are serious about not selling alcohol to the underage but need the local police's support and advice as to what help is available.

Paying careful attention to where you place alcohol and designing your store in a way that prevents theft will help, such as keeping the drinks aisle well lit.

John McNamara
Chief executive, British Institute of Innkeeping

We advise retailers to always challenge people who look under 21 for identification. We produce pamphlets and brochures for retailers that tell shoppers not to be offended if they are asked for ID.

We recommend retailers rely on a passport, a photo driving licence or a proof-of-age card that bears the hologram of the Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS).

The 'novelty' ID cards that can be bought on the internet are an absolute scandal. They rip youngsters off and confuse retailers, so it is important that businesses know how to spot them. We recommend retailers only accept proof-of-age cards with a PASS mark because the hologram can't be forged. Retailers must be sure to check the photograph and date of birth as well as the hologram.

There are about 1.5 million cards in circulation so they should be familiar to retailers. We also have intellectual property on the PASS mark and will sue if anyone tries to use it illegally.

Making sure staff are well trained and know how to deal with customers will help, as will making sure they are confident when asking people for ID.

Stephen Hogg
Policy adviser, Wine & Spirit Trade Association

Checking for proof of age is essential and figures show that retailers are good at it. The most recent set of test purchases showed a significant drop in the numbers of underage people being served, from 50% two years ago to 38% this year.

Of the 38% who failed first time, only 1% failed again, and the government has recognised this achievement by retailers in tackling underage sales.

Retailers can easily find posters about Challenge 21 on our website, which can be downloaded and used in-store.

These posters let customers know that retailers are simply adhering to the law, not just making the decision about who can and can't be served alcohol, which helps them understand why they are being asked for ID.

Most stores on the high street have put these posters up, so the stores that aren't displaying them are quite obvious. It is important to make sure you use them in your store.

We have also issued a guidance book to tell retailers where best to site alcohol in stores to prevent theft.