Police revel truth of teen drink sales

A SHOCKING picture of just how easy it is for under eighteens to buy alcohol in Suffolk has emerged as police carried out an undercover sting operation.

A SHOCKING picture of just how easy it is for under eighteens to buy alcohol in Suffolk has emerged as police carried out an undercover sting operation.

A 14-year-old girl (referred to only as 'Jade' to protect her identity) was sent in to a selection of shops in Felixstowe to attempt to buy alcohol, while police waited around the corner.

Out of the five shops visited in the first 'test purchase' operation in the town,

Jade was easily able to buy alcohol in four – no questions asked.

In just three hours Jade purchased a 700ml bottle of WKD, a 700ml bottle of Smirnoff Ice Black, a 700ml bottle of raspberry Archer's Aqua and two 275ml bottles of Bacardi Breezer.

This comes just a week after police sent a letter to shop owners in Felixstowe urging them to be careful about who they served alcohol to and warning that these kind of checks could be carried out.

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Licensing officer PC Richard Durrant said: "I am extremely disappointed that we have found so many places out.

"It has certainly been a worthwhile exercise and it highlights the extent of the problem, justifying the concerns we had, but I have to say it is a worse result than I expected."

The shops which did serve alcohol to Jade can not be named as police are now deciding what action to take against them.

Officers entered the shop as soon as a purchase had been made and identified themselves to staff. Details of staff and managers were noted and the police will contact them again when their course of action has been decided.

The only shop that refused to serve Jade was Grange Stores on Grange Road.

Owner Jatin Patel said: "It is very difficult to tell the age of some people but we make sure our staff always check ID if they are unsure. We are aware of the problems that underage drinking can cause and we wouldn't want to be selling alcohol to anyone under 18."

PC Durrant said: "I am pleased to think that they are on the ball and doing things properly. Often teenagers target small shops like that because they think it's easier."

He explained: "During the summer period alcohol consumption by people under the age of 18 increases significantly, leading to all sorts of problems such as criminal damage and antisocial behaviour.

"We know we cannot stop young people drinking completely as they will always find a way of getting hold of it, but the hope is that if we can find out where they are getting it from we can slow things down."

PC Chris Dearing, who was also present during the exercise, said: "The outcome of the afternoon should hopefully educate everybody, especially parents, who might take more notice when they realise just how easy it is for their kids to get their hands on alcohol."

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