Age Restricted Sales

Age restricted sales
It is generally well known that the sale of alcohol cannot be made to anyone under 18.  However, there are many other age restricted products on sale that retailers and their staff need to be aware of.  Examples of these products are:

Solvents (ie, superglue)              18
Petrol                                                    16
National Lottery                            16
Gas lighter refills                           18
Knives/razor blades                     18
DVDs/Videos/computer games   12/15/18

It is simply not good enough for a retailer or staff member to say that they were not aware that the buyer was underage.  If there is any doubt at all about a purchaser’s age ID should always be requested.

The law says that you must take “reasonable steps” to ensure that a purchaser is not under age.  Reasonable steps would include asking for photographic ID such as a valid passport, photocard driving licence or PASS approved proof of age card.

PASS approved proof of age cards are one of the best forms of ID as the holder of the card will have had to complete an application form, provide endorsed photographs and a copy of their full birth certificate.  PASS approved cards are recognised as an industry standard for proof of age. The card is endorsed with the holder’s date of birth, signature and a unique PASS hologram which therefore makes the card difficult to forge.  Examples of these approved cards are CitizenCard, Validate UK and Young Scot.

Trading Standards Officers and/or Police can carry out test purchases and a failure to pass such a test purchase could result in a fine or prosecution through the Courts.  It a retailer falls foul of a failed test purchase the retailer or seller may be able to show that he has taken all due diligence to avoid committing the offence.  Due diligence can involve a number of steps including evidence of suitable training and record keeping within the premises.  It is recommended that all staff are trained to a high standard and Hills Licensing recommends BIIAB approved training courses for all retailers including regular refresher training on a 3-6 month basis.

For further information and advice contact Hills Licensing by email,

Licensing Objectives

Licensing Objectives

The four main principles of the Licensing Act 2003 are known as the “licensing objectives” and must be considered throughout the licensing process:

–        prevention of crime and disorder
–        promotion of public safety
–        prevention of public nuisance
–        protection of children from harm

Applications for Premises Licences, Personal Licences and Temporary Event Notices must be made with regard to these four objectives.

Prevention of crime and disorder – the main responsible authority involved with this licensing objective is the Police.  The Licensing Officer in the local Police area will consider all Applications made together with the Crime Prevention Officer to ascertain whether the granting of the Application would undermine the crime prevention objective.  Such matters could include (but are not limited to), a lack of security at a premises, lack of staff training, inadequate CCTV systems and even unsuitable premises.  Proper preparation of an Application is essential to ensure that Police do not object to any Application.  Police are available to advise Applicants prior to making Applications.
Promotion of public safety – all responsible authorities will have regard to this objective and not just limited to Police.  Environmental Health and the Fire Officer will also review operating schedules to ensure that public safety is paramount at all times.  A lack of promotion of public safety could include such matters as inadequate outside lighting, fire alarm, fire fighting equipment etc.  Again, the Fire Officer and other Council officials are available to give advice to Applicants, where necessary.
Prevention of public nuisance – the main responsible authority concerned with this objective is Environmental Health and potentially Building Control and/or Planning.  Nuisances can include noise, smells, light pollution as well as unsuitable premises.  It is particularly important that Applicants take advice from Environmental Health in relation to the prevention of noise nuisance at premises in dense residential areas.
Protection of children from harm – of all the licensing objectives this is the most topical having regard to the implications in society today of under-age sales of alcohol and the effects of excessive alcohol drinking on the young.  Such matters which must be considered are a suitable under age sale prevention policy and whether or not young persons will be admitted to premises and those potential situations where it might be necessary to exclude them.

Please contact us email, if you need any assistance with any of the matters referred to above

Do I need a Personal Licence? Q & A

Do I need a Personal Licence? Q & A

Do all my staff need a Personal Licence?

It is not necessary for all staff who work in licensed premises to hold a Personal Licence.  However, it is good practice to ensure that all staff who are involved in the sale of alcohol are trained to a high standard.  This means that staff are able to recognised under age purchasers and potentially drunk customers.  Should anything go wrong at the premises a proper training plan ensures that operators are able to show adequate training has taken place.
Hills Licensing recommends the use of British Institute of Innkeeping training, specifically the Award for Personal Licence Holders (APLH). 
Frequently asked questions:

Do I need to hold a Personal Licence to sell alcohol?

No, but all sales of alcohol must be “authorised” by a Personal Licence Holder.  For example a pub or restaurant may have a Manager who holds a Personal Licence but 3 or 4 staff who don’t hold a Personal Licence.  The Manager “authorises” those staff to make sales of alcohol on his behalf.
If you want to become the Designated Premises Supervisor at the premises you will need to hold a Personal Licence.

What is a Designated Premises Supervisor?

This is the person (usually the Manager but not always) who is in “day to day” control of the premises and is also a Personal Licence Holder.

Do I need to sit the Award for Personal Licence Holders course?

Yes, if you are to go on to become a Personal Licence Holder and Designated Premises Supervisor.

Do I need to have any previous experience or qualifications to sit the course?


How long is the course?

The course is usually taught in a day but some college providers will teach the course over a longer period.

Is there an examination at the end of the course?

The exam is a written multiple choice examination of 40 minutes of which a candidate must obtained 28 out of 40 to pass the exam.

What happens after I pass?

Once the Certificate is obtained the candidate can go on to apply for their Personal Licence through their local Council.  Hills Licensing can assist you with this process.

Are there any reasons why I might not be able to apply for a Personal Licence after I have sat the course?

The course content covers restrictions on those not able to hold a Personal Licence and this includes those persons with relevant convictions such as recent drink driving convictions who may not be able to hold a Personal Licence.

What about Scotland – do they have Personal Licences?

Yes, but there is a separate course available (Scottish Certificate for Personal Licence Holders) if you wish to sell alcohol in Scotland.

How long does the Certificate and Personal Licence last?

The course is only ever needed to be passed once, provided there are no changes in the law in the future.  The Personal Licence, once granted lasts for 10 years and is renewed for further 10 year periods.

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, if you need any assistance with any of the matters referred to above.