Scottish independent retail chain David Sands has been crowned the UK's most responsible drinks retailer for its efforts to halt under-age sales.

The 24-strong Kinross-based chain was named top retailer in the off-trade at the Responsible Drinks Retailing Awards 2007, run by The Grocer's sister title Off-Licence News.

It fought off tough competition from the supermarket s, dedicated off-licences and other convenience operators and impress ed judges with its "thorough and holistic" approach to combating sales to minors and spreading a sensible drinking message.

The business is particularly focused on stopping adults buying booze on behalf of teenagers . By using CCTV images and insisting on increased staff vigilance it has secured evidence to support the police in prosecuting offenders .

It is also increasing its Challenge 21 policy to Challenge 25 to make it easier for staff to ensure only adults buy alcohol.

"It is hoped our various approaches to restricting the supply of alcohol to youngsters, together with the promotion of responsible drinking, will demonstrate to the critics of our trade that we will always strive to operate our stores in a manner designed to compl ement community life, not harm it," said MD David Sands.

n Councillors in Newham, London, have urged retailers to stamp out underage sales after 113 test purchases resulted in 21 illegal sales.