Page last updated at 06:23 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 07:23 UK

Councils 'fail' on youth drinking

Police often send under-18s to try to buy alcohol from off-licences

More than a third of councils in Scotland have not suspended a single shop licence in the past five years for sales of alcohol to underage drinkers.

BBC Scotland has learned that this is despite one in seven off-licences being guilty of selling to under-18s in the most recent police testing scheme.

There are now calls for the current laws to be enforced as rigorously as they are in the US.

Four out of five children aged 15 confessed to having bought alcohol.

When underage children recently tried to buy alcohol from Scottish off-licences, one in seven were caught red-handed.

However, the power to suspend the shop's licence to sell alcohol is hardly ever used in Scotland.

Eleven-year-old admits drinking at parties

From information provided by councils which responded to the BBC's questions, just 34 licences have been suspended in Scotland in the past five years.

More than a third of licensing boards said they had not suspended any.

In most cases, a typical suspension lasted for two weeks.

Alcohol expert Prof Thomas Babor said: "Removing a licence is the most effective deterrent to stop off-licences, supermarkets and bars selling to underage drinkers."

He said this was essential if drinking laws in Scotland were to be enforced with any success.

Eight-year-olds 'abuse alcohol'
30 Apr 08 |  Scotland
Town's under-21 alcohol ban
28 Mar 08 |  Scotland
Underage alcohol sale test failed
10 Dec 07 |  South of Scotland

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