In Ipswich, Mr Seevaratnam Thasan, the Premises Licence Holder of Dobbs Lane Stores pleaded guilty to selling alcohol to underage children under Section 146 of the Licensing Act 2003. He was fined a total of £670 – a £335 fine plus £300 in prosecution costs and a £35 victim surcharge
Suffolk Trading Standards received intelligence of alcohol sales to minors from Dobbs Lane Store, located on Dobbs Lane, Kesgrave. In response to this Suffolk Trading Standards and Suffolk Police carried out an underage alcohol test purchase operation in December 2014 using volunteers under the age of 18.
Alcohol was sold to the volunteer by Mr. Regei Glarance Atputharajah; the seller was issued with a £90 Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND). This was the second recorded underage sale at the premises within a year.
In addition to this, representatives of Martin McColl Ltd’s Wickham Market and Great Cornard stores appeared at Ipswich Magistrates Court as the shops had continued to sell alcohol to young people despite earlier warnings and interventions by Suffolk Trading Standards. The company pleaded guilty to all three counts under section 146 Licensing Act- selling alcohol to underage persons which carries a maximum £5000 fine.
The Wickham Market branch was fined £6000 for two incidents whilst the Great Cornard branch was fined £4000. McColl Ltd was also ordered to pay £1618.63 in costs and a £200 victim surcharge.
The Magistrates took into consideration the guilty pleas, and the fact that McColl Ltd had cooperated with the investigation. The company have also reviewed and updated their procedures since the sales took place. One of the aggravating factors of the case was that one of the sellers was only 16 years old and had been using a manager’s till access code at the time of the sales.
Underage sales test purchase operations take place across the county targeting a variety of premises such as supermarkets, off licences, pubs, bars, and clubs. This critical work plays an important part in reducing anti-social behaviour and reducing the associated health risks which underage drinking has on young people. Both Suffolk’s Trading Standards team and the Police work collaboratively, sharing intelligence to crack down on the offenders.
Retailers know the law and that it is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under 18 years old. Trading Standards advice is to operate a ‘Challenge 25’ policy so anyone who looks under 25 should be asked for ID.
It is important that action is taken against traders who sell alcohol to children; in particular, those traders who repeatedly break these laws, which are in place to protect these young people from the associated health risks that underage drinking has on them.
Anyone with information about illegal sales of alcohol, tobacco, knives, butane gas or other age-restricted products can inform Trading Standards by contacting the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on