Spray paint warnings aim to stop adults buying booze for teens

Crimefighters have come up with a novel way to put adults off buying booze for under-age drinkers – by painting warnings outside off-licences.

A stencilled wine bottle with the phrase “Buying for an U18? It’s an offence” will be sprayed on pavements outside shops selling alcohol in Sutton as part of a new initiative from the town’s Community Alcohol Partnership.

Ashfield District Council initative to stop people buying alcohol for under 18's, pictured is PC Martin Severn, Local Choice shop owner Shinto Mathew and Ashfield Council Lead Development Officer Steve Hughes

Ashfield District Council initative to stop people buying alcohol for under 18's, pictured is PC Martin Severn, Local Choice shop owner Shinto Mathew and Ashfield Council Lead Development Officer Steve Hughes

It is hoped the motif will serve as an instant reminder that it is against the law to buy booze to pass on to teenagers – and therefore reduce the problems associated with drunken behaviour.

Sergeant Martin Severn, who leads the Sutton CAP, said he was pleased the idea was being put into action.

He said: “We believe reminding people at the point at which they may be asked to buy for an underage person will be very effective, and will make people think about the whole issue.”

The warnings will be sprayed outside off-licences over the next few weeks and will be applied using chalk paint, which fades over time.

Funding of £1,000 for the project was provided by the Social Responsibility Alliance.

Councillor Tony Page, the Local Government Association’s licensing spokesman, said the stencil was an “innovative” way of drawing attention to a serious issue.

He said: “Retailers have taken positive steps to prevent sales direct to under-age drinkers, but incidents where adults are buying alcohol for young people to drink outside the home are increasing.

“Many people are unaware of the law around this and the LGA is pleased to support Sutton CAP’s innovative way of bringing the issue to public attention.”

As part of the campaign, the Sutton CAP has also produced leaflets which point out adults face a £90 on-the-spot fine for buying alcohol for an under 18 – known as proxy purchase – or an unlimited one if they go to court for the offence.

Regular visits by police officers and Ashfield District Council licensing staff are being made to licensees to check their refusals records, ensure they are asking for age identification and are recording when they suspect a proxy purchase is being attempted.

Trading Standards and police officers have also carried out test purchasing in Sutton.

Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle, community safety committee chairman at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We believe under-age sales of alcohol, whether by proxy or otherwise, is an issue throughout the county and we are concerned about the subsequent effects of under-age sales, for example, health concerns and antisocial behaviour.

“The council takes an intelligence-led approach to the work it carries out and is reliant on residents reporting their concerns in order that we can target our resources effectively.”