POLICE will be conducting a number of planned test purchase of alcohol operations at licensed premises in the Coleraine Borough Council area over the next few months.
Inspector McCracken, from Coleraine Coast Neighbourhood Police Team, said: “Test purchasing of alcohol power is a legislative mechanism that is designed to safeguard and protect children as well as the wider community across Northern Ireland.
The PSNI is asking for the full support and co-operation from everyone to assist in preventing the illegal sale of alcohol to minors.
“The scheme is not designed to entrap licensees and their staff, or catch them off guard,” said Insp McCracken.
“It is designed to help raise licensee and staff awareness of alcohol as an age-restricted product. Selling alcohol to under 18 year olds is an offence and such irresponsible sales impact significantly upon young people and the wider community.
“We anticipate the test purchase of alcohol scheme will encourage licensees and their staff to actively challenge persons appearing to be under 18 years old for valid proof of age identification before making an alcohol sale.
“The scheme is a mechanism for reducing the amount of alcohol illegally sold to persons under 18 years of age in licensed premises. It also allows us to gather evidence regarding under age sales with a view to prosecuting where appropriate, those who are found selling alcohol to minors.
“Any off licence that sells alcohol to the test purchase operator (who will be a juvenile between the age of 16 and 17 years of age) will be subject to an investigation for the illegal sale and supply of alcohol to a minor and a subsequent report to the Public Prosecution Service.
“Our hope is that this does not happen; if the juvenile is asked questions in relation to their age they will be provided with truthful answers that will show they are under age, therefore allowing the premises to refuse the sale. Those premises that an operation takes place in and refuses the sale will be informed so at a later date.”