Industry chiefs have slammed government plans to introduce on-the-spot fines for selling alcohol to underage youngsters.
They say the move is a “knee-jerk reaction” to the binge drinking report which was published this week.
The Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy stopped short of calling for legislation to police retailers’ and suppliers’ levels of responsibility, instead urging them to make improvements through self-regulation.
However, the Home Office is looking at plans to introduce fixed penalties for retailers and publicans caught selling to under-18s. A Home Office spokesman said fixed penalty
notices were already in place for public order offences, such as urinating in the street, and that the government would be consulting with the industry on widening the reach of the fines. The Association of Convenience Stores public affairs and communications manager, James Lowman, said: “It’s a knee jerk-reaction. The government needs to be careful as fines wouldn’t allow retailers to improve standards. The relative outcome of fixed penalty notices would not justify their introduction.”
Thresher Group chief executive David Williams said: “It’s not fair to pillory employees as if they were criminals. We believe this is a management issue and would like to see every retailer taking it as seriously as we do. Retailers should certainly be fined if their policies are not adequate to enforce the law.”
The Home Office’s ideas are the first possible legislative repercussions of the binge drinking report, but government has warned there may be more.
Rosie Davenport