Sefton Council rely on tip-offs to catch children buying alcohol

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Sefton Council rely on tip-offs to catch children buying alcohol

Central government cuts to council budgets are forcing local authorities to rely on tip-offs from the public to combat alcohol being sold to children.   In the run-up to the Christmas party season, the public service union has raised concerns about a dramatic fall in the number of test purchases being carried out to detect illegal sales of alcohol to minors.

It follows reports last month that in the past four years, just 16 people have been convicted in the UK of buying alcohol for a child.   Statistics published by the Department for Communities and Local Government* show that councils’ budgeted spend on trading standards services has fallen by 26% in the three years between 2010/11 and 2013/14.

This is a cut of £46m taken out of services across England. In the last year alone, budgeted spend on trading standards fell by 11.5%.   A Trading Standards Officer said:   “Due to staffing cuts locally we are doing fewer test purchases year on year, but on the ones we are doing, we’ve started to see the numbers of illegal sales ticking up.

We’re not sure why – it could be linked to the difficult trading climate for businesses.

But we’re worried that if we do less and less, we lose the deterrent effect.

This could undermine recent progress on reducing underage drinking in the UK.”   Festive facts   It is also illegal to sell:

•Christmas crackers to children under 12

•Party poppers to children under 16

•Liqueur chocolates to children under 16

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