Page last updated at 05:37 GMT, Friday, 30 May 2008 06:37 UK

Under-age buyers test drink sales

The government believes there are too many under-age drinkers

Teenagers will be sent to buy alcohol from shops around Scotland's capital city as part of a drive to halt under-age sales.

Test purchasing is to be introduced in Edinburgh following the success of a similar scheme in Fife.

It led to the suspension of several alcohol licences of shops in the area which were caught supplying drink to minors.

Lothian and Borders Police will use 16-year-olds in the initiative.

Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said there was clear evidence that too many children under the age of 18 were currently drinking alcohol.

'Pro-active steps'

Supt Lesley Clark, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: "A good deal of the anti-social behaviour our communities face is caused by the consumption of alcohol by persons under 18 and, by utilising the approach of test purchasing, we are taking pro-active steps to reducing the supply of alcohol to young people."

Volunteers will try to buy alcohol in licensed premises across Edinburgh, with all offences being reported to prosecutors and licensing boards.

Mr MacAskill said: "We know too many under-18s are drinking alcohol - a simple walk through a park or down the street on a Friday night is evidence of that.

"Responsible licensees have nothing to fear. Adopting a 'can't tell, don't sell' policy is the best option.

"This is about protecting our young people and tackling under-age drinking."

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