Four pubs in Bedlington have been caught selling alcohol to teenagers, one as young as 13.
Test purchases involving a 13 and 16-year-old were served alcohol at The Sun Inn and The Red Lion, in Front Street West; The Black Bull, Front Street East; and The Market Tavern, in Market Place.
The youngsters, part of a joint operation involving Northumberland County Council and Northumbria Police, were not questioned about their age or asked to produce any identification.
Fixed penalty notices were issued at the venues.
It was part of an initiative involving the council’s public protection service and the neighbourhood police team to tackle the growing problem of under-age drinking and alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour in Bedlington.
Inspector Grant Dawson said: “We know that under 18s who drink alcohol are more likely to get involved in anti-social behaviour or crime, or become victims of crime themselves.
“This is why we take this issue seriously and work with our partners to deal with it. We pay regular visits to licensed premises to remind staff of their responsibilities.
“We will continue to reinforce the message that they must ask their younger looking customers for proof of age before selling them alcohol.”
Coun Dave Ledger, deputy leader at the council, said: “It is very disappointing to hear that a 13-year-old and 16-year-old were so easily served alcohol at these venues.
“The link between alcohol consumption and anti-social behaviour is well documented as are the dangers to the young person’s health when consuming alcohol.”
Victoria Barrington, head of the council’s public protection service, said: “Operations like these are fundamental in tackling underage drinking, and anti-social behaviour.
“I would like to thank the underage sale test purchase volunteers for their assistance, without them these operations would be unable to take place.
“I urge members of the public to report, in confidence, any instances of the suspected sales of age restricted products to young people, whether this is shops, pubs or private houses selling to those underage or suspected proxy sales.”