Alcohol sold to underage drinkers

Three shops in Lerwick were found selling alcohol to underage drinkers in a test-purchasing exercise undertaken by Northern Constabulary, a meeting of the licensing board heard today.

The three all offered “off-sales”, and failed to verify the age of a young test puchaser who was working with the police. Licensed premises are obliged to check the age of anyone who appears to be under-25, even if they know them.

A total of nine premises were targeted in October by the test purchaser. The three that failed all passed a similar test the following day. The identity of the three is not known.

Executive manager of environmental health and trading standards Maggie Sandison said that premises breaching the law were investigated by police and can be reported to the procurator fiscal, even for a first offence. The procurator fiscal then decides whether or not to pursue the case.

The premises involved receive a written warning and can have their licence to sell alcohol suspended or revoked, or a variation can be placed on their licence, at the discretion of the licensing board.

Mrs Sandison said: “Everybody should be asked for proof of age and young people expect to be asked. Young people are still growing and alcohol impacts on brain development. People drinking earlier are more likely to have risky drinking practices when older.”

She added: “Alcohol is an important part of sales [for shops] and they should protect this by not selling to underage customers.”

The meeting agreed to review the licence of the three premises at a meeting of 25th January. Their identity will be revealed at that time.

The test purchase operation employs a young person from outwith Shetland who is over the age of 16


Add Your Comment
  • Freda Smith

    • December 11th, 2012 13:55

    What bothers me about this is that despite being over 25, I will still be asked for ID. Despite what arguments you might have for this, it feels very oppressive and penalising. I don’t want to live in a police state where ID is mandatory, and I certainly don’t find it ‘flattering’. It’s condescending.

  • ian tinkler

    • December 11th, 2012 19:12

    I am over 25 and am really hurt when I am asked to produce proof of age by some young doll, really! (DOB 8/01/51) Well maybe not too upset corse I am young and vain enough to be rather easily flattered. Oppress me anytime!!!

  • Michael Groat

    • December 12th, 2012 3:48

    I’m afraid it’s too late to worry about living in a police state ,we’re already there.

  • Stephen Morgan

    • December 12th, 2012 11:17

    The important issue her is about tackling underage drinking and the very serious and damaging affects this has on young people. Surely this outweights you feeling opressed?

  • Johan Adamson

    • December 12th, 2012 11:47

    Surely though, parents are buying drink for their bairns so this is a bit of a moot point? They wont have to pretend to be older, and shops wont sell it to them. I worry about this. I have small children, so not met this problem yet, and I dont know what I will do, since it is still illegal to buy alcohol for bairns but they are still getting it.

  • Freda Smith

    • December 12th, 2012 13:44

    Stephen, under-age drinking is a problem, but it’s a societal one. I personally think there should be more moderation of drinkers in bars – the ‘if someone is drunk, don’t serve them’ doesn’t seem to happen here like it does on the mainland. I’ve seen people vomiting on tables, and pulling their clothes off and trousers down. If adults are doing this, then they are acting as pretty negative role models. Even drink-driving doesn’t seem to have the level of stigma that it ought to before there are so many people reported doing it.

    I am annoyed that even when I’m buying wine to put in the family meal, I am being ID’d. No one even asks the year you were born. And the shops are so afraid of being punished, that they’re asking everyone. I don’t want to have to carry ID around with me everywhere I go- it seems like the ID card system that the government spent millions on is trying to be enforced in other ways.

    And I know that there are less young people that vote than older folks, so it is fair to treat us in this way? Even if people have families and pay taxes? Argh!

    On the upside, Ian, you made me laugh 😀

  • Andrew Gibson

    • December 12th, 2012 14:54

    As someone who’s been around since the heydays of the Beatles I find it quite upsetting when I am NOT asked for ID. Obviously I look older than 18, but they could at least humour me.

    Seriously though, Freda, enjoy it while it lasts. When I was your age I had to get my ‘younger’ brother to vouch for me when trying to get into pubs.

    Alcohol at a young age can be very damaging. My older brother was a heavy drinker at 15 and an alcoholic just a few years later. He died age 36 (RIP).

  • John Tulloch

    • December 12th, 2012 21:29

    “The test purchase operation employs a young person from outwith Shetland who is over the age of 16”

    Not “over the age of 18”?

  • John Tulloch

    • December 12th, 2012 21:44


    I’m with you on this one, this is yet another of Nanny State’s new rules that she applies with gusto to all her wards in order to stop the little ones misbehaving when she can’t be bothered to watch them herself.

    And of course, if we break Nanny’s rules she may smack us for being “bad”!

    If you need cheering up on this topic can I recommend Richard Littlejohn’s entertaining article on the following link in which he takes Nanny’s herd of sacred cows “tae da Market Green” for summary, inhumane dispatch.

  • ian tinkler

    • December 13th, 2012 10:23

    Nanny state is a pain in the backside. How about all those who wish to, opt out, can. Once out they can smoke duty free, eat fat and sugar all day and drink cheap booze till they turn yellow and their teeth fall out. O yes Nanny NHS will not treat them, Nanny social services can ignore them, they have opted out. Let them self-medicate their cancers, obesity and cirrhosis. Soon they would no longer be a problem to the rest of us. Wicked nanny state.

  • John Tulloch

    • December 13th, 2012 18:00

    This is really about whether perfectly mature, sensible adults like Fiona who have nothing to do with under-age drinking, should be affronted every time they buy a few cans of beer or a bottle of wine to have with their family Christmas dinner and there seems to me to be, not only a lack of fairness and respect for electors in this but also, a surfeit of withering condescension.

    Fiona, a young mum is subjected to it, young doctors and teachers will be subjected to it, young soldiers, perhaps even members of the SAS, on leave from Afghanistan will be subjected to it – need I go on?

    You can be placed in the line of fire at a very young age yet you can’t buy yourself a tin of beer on leave without people demanding to see your ID – they must wonder what they are fighting for, it used to be “liberty”?

    And guess whose absurd policy hatchery this one popped out of – why “NANNY SALMOND’s,” of course!

  • Andrew Gibson

    • December 14th, 2012 9:38

    Does scrapping the ‘nanny state’ and having absolute liberty mean we do away with speed limits, can all carry guns, take heroin, walk around naked, rob banks instead of working…..and so on?

    Unfortunately there are rules, some you will agree with and some you don’t. Their utimate design is to make it better for the whole and in doing so some individuals will be affected. The designers do not know which 21 year old person is a responsible law-abiding adult and which are unruly tearaways trying to destroy everything they touch, so they usually have to cater for the lowest common denominator.

    The article above is about selling alcohol to those underage, which is illegal and only an irresponsible adult would condone, not the ‘nanny state’. It is not always clear who is or isn’t of legal age from their appearance and so the use of ID cards covers those irregularities. The rule on ID cards and other forms of identification in the UK is far less strict than in the US and that is suppose to be the “land of the free”

  • John Tulloch

    • December 14th, 2012 12:31

    Andrew, re your “argumentum as absurdum,” it’s liberty I’m in favour of, not anarchy!

    Liberty is roughly defined as having freedom to make your own decisions as long as they don’t impact unfavourably on others’ liberty.

    This is essentially the same argument as whether it’s ok to stop and search – or even shoot, as in the case of poor Mr Menezes – people because they have a brown face. In this case the policy is ageist, not racist.

    This policy is also a tacit admission of failed education and social services and, frankly, it would be more beneficial to provide children – and parents where necessary – with lessons in proper parenting skills and the well-established drawbacks of drugs and alcohol than brain-washing them to believe in nebulous concepts like man-made global warming as if they were established facts.

  • Andrew Gibson

    • December 14th, 2012 13:35

    John. Liberty or anarchy. Your message sounds like it’s from someone who is at odds with the world and himself.
    I’m sure, or hope, you know what you’re talking about

  • John Tulloch

    • December 14th, 2012 20:24

    Eccentric it may be in some people’s eyes, picking up cudgels for the 18 to 25-year olds – at my age!

    Injustice however is injustice, regardless of colour, creed or even, age.

    I am at odds with neither myself nor the world however I am at odds with many of the things that happen in it, often perpetrated by or at the behest of, politicians.

    There are far too many prissy “would-be nannies” bustling indignantly in their corsets, wagging their fingers and tut-tutting about young people who I must say I find as good and better as generations before, including my own.

    Politicians depend on us to vote for them, fight for them and indeed, pay their salaries. We employ them, they do not employ us and it behoves them to remember that when they are swaggering around forcing their employers to produce ID at every turn.

    Assume a group of young people, some 17, some 18, decide they want to drink some alcohol on a Friday night. The 17-year olds can’t buy it but the 18-year olds can, they can prove their age. So the 18-year olds go in and buy the booze for the group and they all go on the rampage with it later, thumbing their noses to the authorities and those 18 to 25-year olds who must endure this interference in their private lives.

    Meanwhile, all the young mums and dads, teachers, doctors, police officers – and serving SAS commandos – must produce ID before they can buy a can of beer.

    It’s condescending and just plain wrong – and to cap it all, it won’t work.

  • John Tulloch

    • December 18th, 2012 8:15

    Andrew has set me thinking on this – beyond my knee-jerk response to politicians’ “nanny’s rules” for us children.

    As one who has frequently indulged himself from time to time, excessive alcohol consumption does seem to be a growing problem and weekend city centre scenes which are now being exported to holiday destinations abroad are an unedifying sight.

    I’m surprised no-one has asked me “Well if you’re so against this, what would you do?

    My answer to that if I’m honest is “I don’t know” so while remaining wary of politicians’ desire to guide us through the channels of life – they “know better than us what’s good for us” – I’m going to think about it and meanwhile, turn the question back to those who didn’t ask me – what would YOU do?

  • Johan Adamson

    • December 18th, 2012 12:39

    It must be down to education. Educating the bairns with the ‘its not big or clever’ message’ as well as health messages. We are doing well with the smoking ban, reducing the harm people can do, maybe thats what you do. But it is societal as above. You need to treat the causes, not just the effects as shown with other things. Bairns are going to always want to try it, as we all did.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • December 21st, 2012 8:41

    Not a nanny state it is a dictatorial state.

    Wine club members will be among those breaking the law under legislation planned by the SNP Government – if they take advantage of cut-price offers delivered from English warehouses.

    The proposals are a follow-up to Holyrood legislation passed in 2010 to crack down on two-for-one alcohol promotions.

    Each year, thousands of wine cases cross the Border for Scots who have ordered special deals online or by telephone. Now Alex Salmond’s Government is determined to tighten alcohol laws and strengthen the powers of licensing boards and the police to prevent Scots buying direct from England.


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