According to Serve Legal, there is a growing decline in the number of on-trade outlets passing underage test purchases.
Since 2010, there has been a decline of 8% to only 64% of pubs passing underage test purchases. By comparison, supermarkets have increased their underage test purchase pass rates to an all-time high of 85% in 2013, with convenience stores and forecourt retailers also showing this upwards improvement.
The dip in performance of pubs is seen to be largely a result of the leased and tenanted sector where fewer than half (46%) pass the underage test purchases. London and Scottish pubs were also highlighted as being particularly poor with their pass rates being lower than in other regions.
Serving underage customers carries the risk of a hefty fine and potentially the loss of Licence
Ensuring all staff have received adequate training is crucial. Some pub companies use testing as part of their strategy to improve performance and drive up pass rates as a result however the majority of pub companies do not initiate testing until venues have been caught selling to underage drinkers by Police or Trading Standards by which time they have to demonstrate a commitment to improve staff performance or face the consequences.
This may explain why Serve Legal have specific concerns regarding the on-trade. It should also be noted that the Government is now proposing changes to the sentencing guidelines increasing the penalty for selling alcohol to under 18s.
For further information, please contact our Alcohol & Entertainment Licensing team on 01332 340 211.