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Last Updated: Monday, 30 June, 2003, 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK
Pledge to stamp out underage drinking
Police and council officials have promised tough action on unscrupulous Shropshire traders who sell alcohol to children.

The commitment comes after a health survey of Shropshire teenagers revealed that more than half of all 15-year-olds in Bridgnorth, Oswestry and South Shropshire were classified as "regular drinkers", drinking alcohol at least once a week.

Shropshire County Council's Trading Standards Service and West Mercia Police have reacted by making a joint pledge to co-operate on a tough enforcement policy on the sale of alcohol to minors.

The reports comes after disappointing results for local traders in test purchases of alcohol for Trading Standards by a teenage girl.

No excuse

Councillor Bill Morris said: "We are very concerned. In the last alcohol test purchasing exercise in Oswestry in October 2002, a surprising 85% of off-sales premises sold alcohol to our 15-year-old female volunteer.

"We intend to repeat this exercise at the earliest opportunity and look forward to seeing a dramatic reduction in sales."

David Edwards, from the Trading Standards Service added: "Police have expressed similar concerns to us about problems in the Bridgnorth area.

"I would like to remind alcohol retailers throughout the county that they should all be on their guard against the possibility of staff selling alcohol to under-age teenagers.

"Steps must be taken where there could be the slightest doubt as to whether the customer is 18-years-old. There is now no excuse for anyone who does not ask a young customer to prove their age before buying alcohol."

A West Mercia Police spokesman said: "We were very disappointed by the 85% sales figure in our area last year and are delighted to offer our full co-operation for test purchase exercises."

Underage drinkers targeted
18 Apr 03  |  Leicestershire
Card to tackle underage sales
06 Mar 03  |  England

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