UNDER AGE & PROXY SALES: A GUIDE FOR LICENSEES

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1 UNDER AGE & PROXY SALES: A GUIDE FOR LICENSEES Produced by the Thames Valley Police Licensing Team September 2011

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3 c o n t e n t s introduction 4 page under age sales 5 challenge policies 5 refusal logs 5 proxy sales 7 staff training 7 false identification 8 the law 8 acceptable forms of identification 8 fake id to look out for 9 challenging identification 10 contacts 10 3

4 i n t r o d u c t i o n As part of the Licensing Act 2003, the protection of children from harm licensing objective places a duty on licensees to ensure that they do not sell alcohol or other age-restricted products to either those who are under age or those seeking to purchase the products on their behalf. Persistent failure in this regard places the licence at risk, so it is vital that staff remain vigilant at all times particularly with the lengths that some young people will go to in order to get what they want. This information pack has been produced by Thames Valley Police to assist you, the licensee, in ensuring that underage sales do not take place and, importantly, demonstrating that your business is taking appropriate steps to do so. The false identification section is largely based on the Home Office s False ID Guidance document which goes into considerably more detail and is available on the Home Office website. 4

5 u n d e r a g e s a l e s c h a l l e n g e p o l i c i e s Challenge policies are a form of age policy that are sometimes used by licensed premises as a condition on their licence, but given that the consequences of selling alcohol to those who are under age are potentially very severe (prosecution, substantial fines, licence review etc), it is sensible to employ such a scheme anyway. The concept is simple if a customer appears to be under a certain age, then they will be asked to produce suitable identification as proof of their age. In most cases Challenge 21 is used which, as the names suggests, means that anyone who looks like they are under 21 will be asked for identification. It is down to individual licensees to decide what the age threshold should be, but many premises operate a Challenge 25 policy and some even go as far as using Challenge 30. r e f u s a l l o g s Many licensed premises maintain a refusal or incident log as a condition of their licence, but it is good practice to maintain one regardless as it helps to demonstrate due diligence and the premises commitment to avoiding underage sales. A standard refusal log will provide space to record: the date and time of the incident the product that the customer attempted to buy the name and signature of the person refusing the sale the name and/or description of the customer and the reason for the refusal (no ID, fake ID, suspected proxy buying etc). 5

6 The log should be readily available to staff and should be completed as soon as possible after each incident so that the details can be as accurate as possible. The entries should also be as detailed as possible the three examples below illustrate how differently a single incident can be represented. Date Time Product Staff Member Customer Name/ Description Comment/ Reason for Refusal 30/7 Alcohol Mike male ID 30/ Alcohol Mike Jordan white male, about 15 No ID OK 30/7 9 pm Shernov Vodka Mike Jordan white male, about 15, 5 8 tall, slim, short spiky blond hair, Scottish accent No ID, abusive The first example is not good because although it does log the incident, it leaves out any helpful detail. No time is given, and the description provides no help in identifying the individual should they make further attempts to purchase alcohol. Putting alcohol as the product is okay, and limiting the staff member s identity to just his first name doesn t provide a particularly strong audit trail in the long term. Finally, no indication is given to what aspect of the ID resulted in the refusal did they not have any, was it fake or was it someone else s? The second example is a better entry with the time being included (although it doesn t specify whether it is in the morning or the evening), along with the staff member s full name and a bit more detail on the customer description and reason for the refusal. The third entry is the best one. It gives a more specific time, identifies the type and brand of alcohol, has the staff member s signature, and includes a much better description as well as an additional comment about the customer s behaviour. It is this kind of entry that you and your staff should be aiming to make every time a sale is refused. 6

7 p r o x y s a l e s Proxy sales occur when someone of legal age purchases alcohol and other age-restricted products on behalf of somebody who is under age. Although under these circumstances the licensee does not commit an offence under the Licensing Act (it is the person who buys the alcohol who does that), they still have a duty under the Protection of Children from Harm licensing objective to avoid making such sales. If there is evidence that premises persistently make proxy sales, then the licensee can expect the police to take action. Realistically, there are only two situations whereby a licensee could reasonably identify likely proxy sales. o f f l i c e n c e s In the case of off-licences, staff should remain aware of young people loitering at the front of the premises or nearby particularly if the young people have already attempted to purchase alcohol themselves - in case they are asking genuine customers and/or passers by to make purchases on their behalf. It is recommended that, if a sale is suspected to be on behalf of a young person, staff speak to the customer about it (they will often not be aware of the law) and consider refusing the sale. There are posters available through the Thames Valley Police Licensing Team advising customers of the law in relation to proxy sales. o n l i c e n c e s The law applies equally to on-licensed premises although there are some exceptions that arise from the nature of the premises. Under the Licensing Act, it is acceptable for someone aged 18 or over to buy alcohol for someone under age if that someone is 16 or 17 and will be drinking it with a meal whilst accompanied by someone aged 18 or over. It also only applies to the sale of beer, wine or cider. In all other cases it is illegal. Staff should remain vigilant to the age profiles of groups of customers so that they can identify when any purchases may be destined for someone under-age and refuse the sale accordingly. Staff commit an offence if they knowingly allow the consumption of alcohol by someone under 18. s t a f f t r a i n i n g There are numerous training packages and services available to you, from companies that will come to you to train you and your staff in preventing under-age sales, to DVD based distance learning. Any training that your staff undertake should be properly documented. 7

8 f a l s e i d e n t i f i c a t i o n t h e l a w There are four types of false identification: Genuine document being used by someone else (e.g. a younger sibling) Genuine document which has been altered (e.g. date of birth changed) Genuine document which has been fraudulently obtained (e.g. personal details lied about on application) False document (e.g. a fake identity card) Anyone using any of the above to attempt to purchase alcohol will be committing offences under one or more of three laws: the Identity Cards Act 2006; the Fraud Act 2006; and the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act a c c e p t a b l e f o r m s o f i d e n t i f i c a t i o n As a minimum, acceptable identification will have the individual s photograph and date of birth on it, along with a suitable holographic mark. However, since many fake and novelty ID websites now offer holograms it is good practice to limit what is acceptable to one of the following three forms: Proof of Age cards bearing the PASS hologram Photo card driving licence Passport The PASS hologram represents the Proof of Age Standard Scheme, which was set up in 2003 and is endorsed by the Government, Trading Standards Institute and the Association of Chief Police Officers. The cards can look different because there are a number of authorised issuing bodies, although there are only three which operate at the national level (CitizenCard, ValidateUK and Young Scot) and therefore it is they who issue the majority of cards. Applicants for PASS cards undergo a rigorous checking process which is audited by the Trading Standards Institute, and the PASS logo is copyrighted so that it is a criminal offence for others to utilise it and as such it is a reliable form of identification, although look for signs that it may have been tampered with. This pack includes a card with advice on what to look out for. 8

9 f a k e i d t o l o o k o u t f o r There is a wide range of companies, especially web-based, which offer fake identification products. They avoid potential legal action by stating that the products are intended for novelty use only, although they also pride themselves on the authentic look of the products. Many identification cards, whilst looking authentic, are not representations of genuine cards. Commonly available fake ID cards, many of which have no genuine equivalents, include: UK National Identity Card UK Passport Card International/European Driving Permit Provisional Motorcycle Permit International Student Card European Identity Card Freelance Reporter Licence European Union Travel Card University Library Card Age Card British Students Union Card European Works Permit Card Proof of Age Card Student Offers Card Student union Card United Kingdom Entitlements Card United Kingdom Identity Card International Age Card National Registry Card ID Check Card A search on the internet will yield numerous examples of the fake ID cards that are available and that under-age people are willing to buy in order to try and fool licensees, so it is recommended that you take the time to look and acquaint yourself with them. Although the above will usually have a professional and authentic look about them, you can also check ID for physical signs that it may not be legitimate, including raised photos (where a photo has been pasted over the top of the original) and fuzziness around the printed words. 9

10 c h a l l e n g i n g i d e n t i f i c a t i o n Watch out for any signs of nervousness from the person presenting the identification avoiding eye contact and fidgeting are among the signs that can signify that the identification is fake. Even if the identification presented appears genuine, it is worth carrying out further checks that would help demonstrate that they are old enough to make the purchase. Examples include: Ask them their date of birth if they have borrowed or changed the identification they may struggle to recite the displayed date of birth correctly when put on the spot. Ask the person for their star sign if they have borrowed the identification from someone else, they may be able to recite the date of birth but they won t necessarily know the star sign. Ask for another form of ID, such as a bank card or student ID stolen or borrowed ID is unlikely to match other forms that they have with them. Ask for the postcode on the ID again, if the ID is borrowed, the individual may know the main part of the address, but they may not be able to give the postcode under pressure. Ask for their age they may inadvertently give their actual age or default to 18, which might not match the ID. To assist staff with making challenges in this way, it can be helpful for you to display (out of view from the customers) a list of information such as what dates come under each star sign and what year of birth would make the person the age that they claim (this would need regularly updating as time goes on). This saves staff the need to know the details or having to work them out. c o n t a c t s Thames Valley Police Licensing Team Thames Valley Police HQ South, Oxford Road, Kidlington, Oxon OX5 2NX 101 (Thames Valley Police non-emergency number) 10

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