Released: 20 June 2022
A warning has been issued to West Sussex businesses who sell alcohol without asking for proof of age, after a Worthing shop had its licence revoked for selling alcohol to a child.
It comes after a West Sussex Trading Standards investigation found that Mr Jitendra Kumar Patel, the owner of OM Food and Wine, trading as Clifton Food & Wine, 123 Clifton Road, Worthing, sold two bottles of alcopops to a 15-year-old in February this year.
Trading Standards officers had previously visited the convenience store in January to give advice to Mr Patel after receiving reports that age restricted vapes were being sold to children.
Just one month later Mr Patel sold two bottles of WKD Blue, a ready-to-drink alcopop, to a 15-year-old child who had volunteered to take part in a test purchase carried out by Trading Standards.
Peter Aston, West Sussex Trading Standards Team Manager said: “Despite having previously received detailed advice about how to prevent underage sales, Mr Patel failed to carry out any checks to confirm the child’s age.
“All licensed premises are required to have an age verification policy in place and it’s important staff are aware what are acceptable forms of identification and when it should be asked for. We strongly recommend retailers operate a ‘Challenge 25’ policy and support their staff to follow it.
“West Sussex Trading Standards has a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to the sale of alcohol to children and where we have sufficient evidence to show this has taken place, we will seek a review of the business’s alcohol licence with the aim of having the licence suspended or revoked. A licence review can lead to the alcohol licence being suspended or revoked and both the seller and the business may be liable to a separate prosecution.”
Anyone who believes a shop is selling alcohol, tobacco or e-cigarettes or knives to under 18s is asked to report it online to West Sussex Trading Standards
The investigation had followed a previous incident where Mr Patel was found to have sold alcohol to local children. Sussex Police were called to attend after three children were found to be ‘very drunk’ on Goring seafront. The children were passed to the care of their parents having been medically assessed by paramedics.
Supported by representations from Sussex Police, in March this year West Sussex Trading Standards submitted an application for a licence review. The removal of OM Food & Wine’s alcohol licence was determined at a meeting of Worthing Borough Council’s licensing and control committee on Wednesday, 8 June.
If no appeal is lodged, revocation of the licence will come into effect on Friday, 1 July 2022, at which time the sale of alcohol must cease at OM Food & Wine.
Duncan Crow, West Sussex Cabinet Member for Community Support, Fire & Rescue, said “It’s important we all work together to keep our children safe and we’re grateful for the support of Sussex Police in this case. Trading Standards will continue to respond to allegations of age restricted products being sold to children by shops in West Sussex, so I strongly encourage all businesses who sell age restricted products to make sure they have good age verification checks in place.”