Shops selling alcohol to underage customers could face severe consequences including an unlimited fine and having their alcohol licence revoked, West Sussex Trading Standards has warned.
The warning follows news of town centre shop, Justin Retail, 220 – 222 Chichester Road, Bersted, Bognor Regis having its alcohol licence suspended for two months after Trading Standards officers found it had been selling alcohol to underage teenagers. The convenience store will also be subject to additional licence conditions.
This case is part of a broader effort by West Sussex County Council to crack down on the sale of age-restricted products to children. A robust, ‘zero-tolerance’ approach has led to a number of cases, including Sussex News, Littlehampton, which had its alcohol licence suspended in March 2022 after selling two bottles of cider to a 16-year-old. Clifton Food and Wine in Worthing also had its alcohol licence suspended in June 2022 after the owner sold two bottles of alcohol to local children who were later found “very drunk” on Goring seafront.
The Power petrol station in Storrington received a 12-week suspension of its licence for selling alcohol to a West Sussex Trading Standards child volunteer. Selsey Convenience Store had its alcohol licence suspended for three months in February after selling cider to a child, whilst the Choices of Horsham also had its alcohol licence suspended for one month after selling pink gin to a child.
Peter Aston, West Sussex Trading Standards Team Manager said: “We have a zero-tolerance approach to the sale of alcohol to children and where we have sufficient evidence to show this has taken place, we will seek a review of the business’s alcohol licence with the aim of having the licence suspended or revoked. This is in addition to facing a criminal investigation for breaches of underage sales legislation”
Cllr Duncan Crow, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Community Support, Fire & Rescue, said: “The Council is sending a strong message that businesses found to be selling age-restricted products to children risk losing their licences and potentially their livelihoods. In addition to having their licences suspended or revoked, businesses may also face prosecution under criminal law. This upholds the commitment in our council plan to keep people safe from vulnerable situations.”
Members of the public who have information about the sale of age restricted products to children or the sale of illicit tobacco should call Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 or report the details online www.westsussex.gov.uk/TSreport.
Retailers can find more advice and guidance around the sale of age restricted products, on the Business Companion website: www.businesscompanion.info