Takeaways caught in underage alcohol sting in Northumberland

Northumberland County Council's headquarters in Morpeth.
Northumberland County Council's headquarters in Morpeth.

Takeaways in Northumberland were caught selling alcohol to 14 and 16-year-olds who ordered pizza and lager over the phone.

Public protection officials from Northumberland County Council have been working with children below the legal drinking age to see if takeaway firms would let them buy pizza and lager.

The youngsters were not asked their age when placing an order by phone nor asked for proof of being over 18 when the drink was delivered.

David Sayer, business compliance and public safety unit manager at the council, said: “It proved very easy for the council to order the alcohol and it was supplied with no questions asked.

“Everyone with an alcohol licence has a duty to make sure they are not selling to children. Officers in the trading-standards service are happy to advise businesses how to comply with the law, but we will take firm action against those who break it. Sellers risk losing their alcohol licence if they do not comply. I would like to thank the underage sales volunteers.”

Coun Liz Simpson, deputy business chairman for the council with responsibility for public protection, said: “It is disappointing to see how easy it was for these children to order and have alcohol delivered to them. The links between young people consuming alcohol and anti-social behaviour and health impacts are well-documented.

“We will continue to encourage all premises licence holders to adopt best-practice methods. Officers will not hesitate to take appropriate action against premises licence holders who sell age-restricted products underage or those who fail to comply with Northumberland County Council’s licensing objectives.”

Any premises licence holder needing advice should contact the business compliance and public safety unit on 0345 600 6400.

Members of the public are encouraged to report instances of underage alcohol sales, including if done by proxy. Reports can be anonymous and are treated in confidence. Visit https://online.northumberland.gov.uk/citizenportal/form.aspx?form=ts_uas, email tradingstandards@northumberland.gov.uk or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 040506.