92 year old asked for ID to buy alcohol

A 92 year old lady was refused service because she couldn’t prove she was over the age of 18 with the correct form of ID.

The papers love these headline grabbing page filling stories, they give them the ideal chance to mock all concerned. The problem is they chastise when people get it wrong and the mock when people get it right; wouldn’t it be nice if every so often, we encouraged those who do get it right.

I’m not familiar with the details of this particular case, but it strikes me as being remarkably similar to one of our own clients.

We were contacted following two failed test purchases, when trading standards had initiated a review of the premises licence. As a result of the review a condition was imposed on the licence which stated that ‘no sale of alcohol can be made without an accepted form of identity being shown’; accepted forms of id were listed as photo-card driving licence, passport or a proof of age card with a PASS hologram.

As a result of this condition, there was no longer the requirement for the sales person to judge a customer’s age, as the condition clearly states that no sale can be made without ID.

Any breach of a licensing condition can lead to prosecution and result in either a maximum fine of £20,000 and / or 6 months imprisonment or a further review of the premises licence; with the very real potential for the licence to be forfeited.

Because the condition says that no sale can be made without ID, it doesn’t matter if the customer is the salesperson’s own grandmother whose 80th birthday has been celebrated that very weekend, they would still be required to verify the identity document and ensure it was one of those listed as acceptable.

The condition effectively takes the judgement away from the employees and means that not only would it be an offence to sell alcohol to anyone under 18, it would in some ways be a more serious offence to sell alcohol to anyone (even a 92 year old lady) without seeing the correct form of ID; so in this case the staff have acted correctly and should be congratulated for that.

It makes no sense to anyone to check the ID for a 92 year old lady. However with our client the licensing authority felt they had no other option but to place this condition on the licence, our client had after all demonstrated by failing two test purchases, that they had not taken enough care to prevent underage sales proactively.

What I always find disappointing is that trading standards / police do not do more by way of encouraging premises licence holders to get it right first time.

The solution is in the training of employees, but with no mandatory training required for front line staff, many employers take a short sighted view on the merits of effective training. The local authorities could do more by way of funding or encouraging training rather than using it as a punishment which discourages participation.

The second thing I would like to see them do more, is to encourage compliance by acknowledging test purchases when they are passed. If an employee successfully challenges a test purchase and refuses service, wouldn’t it be great if trading standards produced a certificate to that effect? This could then be displayed as a deterrent to underage people and as a badge of honour for your team member.

Carrot and stick, not just stick…


Related Stories

Great-grandmother 92, refused whiskey because she had no ID – The Metro


Date – 1st November 2011

Submitted by – Peter Mayhew


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