12:06 Thursday 19 December 2013

Teens served alcohol by Uttoxeter pubs' bar staff

Written byRICHARD CASTLE

TWO Uttoxeter pubs are under police investigation for selling alcohol to underage punters.

Licensing officers swooped on the town centre on Saturday, December 7, and sent in underage volunteers to try and order alcohol.

The five pubs that passed the test – the Water Bridge, the Dapple Grey, the Vaults, the Talbot and the White Heart – have been named by police.

But the two that failed, one of which has reportedly taken ‘severe action’ against the member of staff who served the volunteer teenager, cannot be named due to ongoing legal investigations.

The busts came after traces of cocaine were found in all nine of the town pubs visited in recent swabbing tests.

Staffordshire Police licensing boss Jed White said, after the first two establishments visited failed the alcohol sales test, he suspected word of his presence soon got to other pubs in town.

Inspector White said: “If the two pubs that sold the alcohol had challenged the individuals concerned, it would’ve been quite apparent they weren’t even 18.

“The first pub has taken severe action against the staff member concerned, which is the normal reaction and I think it’s important they’re seen to be working to resolve the issue.

“In terms of the pubs that passed, I applaud and thank them for their work in upholding the law.

“I’m sure word got round that we were in town and that may have had an influence – it’s very unusual to have five consecutive premises pass the test – but I’d like to think they’d have done so even without our presence.”

There are two licensing agreements available to pubs – ‘challenge 25’ or ‘challenge 21’.

The former gives establishments a statutory liability to check the ID of anyone who looks under 25 and the former gives the same obligation for customers under 21.

Inspector White said: “We encourage licensees to sign up to the ‘challenge 25’ protocol but many decide to opt for the ‘challenge 21’.

“Alcohol accounts for £44 million in NHS costs every year in Staffordshire alone and is related to violence and other crimes.

“But, with youngsters, it’s extremely dangerous. There are a significant number of hospital admissions of young people who have drunk large amounts.

“When they’re drunk, they’re more vulnerable than adults in terms of their health and their personal safety.

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