Test Purchase – what next?

Test Purchase – what next?

When a test purchase has been failed the Licensing Act 2003 does not require enforcement officers to inform either the Designated Premises Supervisor or the Premises Licence Holder when they detect unlawful sales of alcohol by bar staff or shop workers.  It is for the retailer to ensure that the appropriate person(s) in the organisation are informed about unlawful sales and the results of test purchase operations.

It would be usual, however, for the Store Manager/Bar Manager to be informed first and foremost and then his or her immediate supervisor (Area Manager) who would then in turn inform the Premises Licence Holder of instances where unlawful sales of alcohol have been detected.

Further training of staff to preventing future underage sales as well as rewarding good practice when staff correctly refuse a sale is recommended by Hills Licensing.

The best way to ensure that you are well prepared for test purchasing is to ensure that you and your staff are trained to a good standard.  Hills Licensing recommends the British Institute of Innkeeping course – Award in Responsible Alcohol Retailing –  to ensure that all staff are trained in their responsibilities concerning the retail sale of  alcohol.

What is a test purchase?

Trading Standards Officers can send a person under the age restriction in force into premises and attempt to buy the restricted product  – this is known as a “test purchase”.  Common examples are alcohol and cigarettes.

Children used for this purpose are not committing an offence by attempting to buy the product.

Trading Standards Officers can investigate if you sell an age restricted product (such as alcohol) to a “test purchase” volunteer.  Trading Standards rarely investigate offences committed if the purchaser was not a formal “test purchase” volunteer because of evidential requirements.

Officers have to prove that the offence was committed beyond reasonable doubt.

Officers may invite you for an interview (commonly referred to as an “interview under caution”).  You are not required to attend this interview although failure to do so may have legal consequences for you.  If you would like help with this, please contact Hills Licensing.

Trading Standards Officers have no powers of arrest, this is for the Police only.

It is usually an offence to give false information to a Trading Standards Officer or to obstruct them from performing their duties.

Trading Standards Officers often work in partnership with other agencies, particularly the Police.

Police Officers have some specific powers in relation to age restricted sales.

A Police Officer can issue a fixed penalty for an under age sale of some products, particularly alcohol.  this is commenly known as a “Fixed Penalty Notice”.  Currently the penalty is £80.  This is similar to a parking ticket and the seller has 14 days to pay the fine or the fine will increase significantly.

Fixed Penalties may be used for first offences or subsequent offences.

Age restricted sale offences are not considered to be “arrestable” but Police Officers can still arrest offenders particularly where they have no means of verifyin their idenity and the offender is being unco-operative or provides false details.

Please contact us email, sally@hillslicensing.co.uk if you need any assistance with any of the matters referred to above.