An off-licence which sold alcohol to 16-year-old volunteer test purchasers has had its licence revoked by Boston Borough Council.
European Food, at 43 Wide Bargate, appeared before the authority’s licensing sub-committee on Wednesday
A review of the premises licence was requested by Lincolnshire Police and the three-man licensing panel agreed that the premises licence holder, Jurijs Ogorodnikovs, had failed in his duties to prevent crime and disorder and protection of children from harm.
It is a condition of premises licences that all staff responsible for sale of age-related products are suitably trained and that premises operate the Challenge 25 proof of age policy – requiring anyone who appears to be aged under 25 to produce proof of age before being served with alcohol.
The shop was visited in November, 2016, as part of the Boston Community Alcohol Partnership campaign to tackle underage drinking and associated anti-social behaviour.
The emphasis was to ensure the age verification policy was being operated. Boston CAP is supported by the police, Boston Borough Council, secondary schools, public health organisatioons, trading standards, the Parish of Boston and major stores.
After the visit an undercover operation in January, 2017, saw test purchases made by volunteers just past their 18th birthdays who did not carry age identification. A number of stores, including European Food, sold alcohol without checking ages.
The CAP organised further free training in March. In June European Food again failed a test purchase, selling alcohol to two ‘customers’ aged 20 who were not age checked as they should have been under Challenge 25 rules.
Then in November two volunteers aged just 16 were sold cans of cider at the shop without ages being age checked. European Food was the only shop to fail this final vital test.
The assistant who made the sale received a £90 fixed penalty fine.
The police said legal responsibilities had been consistently failed, conditions of their licence breached, there had been failures to train staff and alcohol had been sold to children despite intervention and support and a stepped approach to problems identified.
Insp Andy Morrice, chairman of Boston CAP, said after the hearing: “The CAP visited all off-licences in the town to raise awareness of the Challenge 25 policy, offering free resources to assist staff in refusal of alcohol sales to under-age customers.
“Premises which failed the compliancy test received feedback and offers of further support, all free of charge. It is vital that we deal robustly with premises flouting the regulations.”
The ban on selling alcohol will become effective after 21 days. There is a right of appeal.