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Underage drinkers caught in swoop

PUBLISHED: 19:30 05 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:46 02 March 2010

POLICE and trading standards officers who swooped on a Felixstowe nightspot found nearly half the drinkers were under-age, it was revealed today.

Parents were called to collect their children after officers carried out a joint covert operation to tackle alleged sales of alcohol to youngsters – blamed for anti-social behaviour by youths in the town.

POLICE and trading standards officers who swooped on a Felixstowe nightspot found nearly half the drinkers were under-age, it was revealed today.

Parents were called to collect their children after officers carried out a joint covert operation to tackle alleged sales of alcohol to youngsters - blamed for anti-social behaviour by youths in the town.

Although the authorities are not naming the premises, it is understood the venue was Bar Blue nightclub in Sea Road, run by businessman Rikki Double.

Suffolk County Council's trading standards department is now considering possible prosecution of the licensees of the club.

Under the supervision of trading standards officers, a 16-year-old boy and two girls aged 14 and 15 tried to get into the venue, which has an age limit of 18.

All three youngsters were admitted without any of the door staff challenging them about their age, said a council spokesman.

Once inside it is alleged the first two were sold alcohol illegally while the third was refused.

A number of police officers then entered and checked the age of all present. Nearly half - 16 out of 35 - were found to be under the required age for being in the club. Some were as young as 15.

Peter Monk, the county council's portfolio holder for public protection, said: "Following complaints from Suffolk Police about young people being admitted to the club and being served alcohol, it was time for action to be taken.

"This is the start of a programme of work, which is being carried out to address the problems of age-restricted items being sold to people below the legal age.

"Traders know they are breaking the law when they sell age restricted items to people who are not of the appropriate age.

"We view this type of offence as very serious and we will consider legal action against any establishment selling to people below the legal age."

Sergeant Mick Richardson said 20 uniformed and plain clothes officers from Felixstowe, Ipswich, Leiston and Lowestoft, were involved, working closely with officers from trading standards.

"As a result of the information obtained, police contacted a number of parents and asked them to collect their children from the club," he said.

"Other youths were required to leave the premises. Nobody was arrested, but officers from Felixstowe will be making further enquiries with those youngsters identified as under-age with a view to supporting any action that trading standards officers are planning to take concerning the sale of alcohol to persons under 18."

Mr Double, who was not present at the venue at the time of the operation, was not available for comment.

Last November, Felixstowe police carried out a similar "test purchase" operation at the club and two 15-year-olds were served alcohol. Mr Double blamed the situation on human error at a busy time in the evening and said everything possible was being done to check ages.

After this he said new technology had been installed and youngsters would need to prove their age to receive an ID membership swipe card with a photo on computer in order to enter.


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