Central Beds Council crack down on shops selling to under age children

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Shop owners were hit by hundreds of pounds in fines and court costs after we sent under-age volunteers to buy alcohol (one as young as 13).

Bedford Square Newsagents, Houghton Regis

Back in June 2019, Kajan Navaratnam, of Bedford Square Newsagents, Houghton Regis, sold a can of Stella Artois to a 17-year-old.

No ID was asked for, the volunteer wasn’t asked his age or any questions at all. Following the sale, a trading standards officer went into the shop to discuss the matter.

While looking behind the till, the officer discovered a quantity of illicit foreign-labelled tobacco that Mr. Navaratnam claimed was for his personal use.

Trading standards carried out two further test buys in September and November 2019, with underage buyers. In the second test, Navaratnan sold a bottle of Echo Falls Summer Berries wine to a 13 year old.

In court, he admitted one count of selling tobacco products illegally under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and one offence of persistently selling alcohol to children, contrary to the Licensing Act.

He was fined £200 for each offence, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £32 and a contribution towards costs of £1,000; a total cost to him of £1,432.

KDK Discount Food and Wine, Dunstable

KDK Discount Food and Wine, High Street North, Dunstable was also visited by underage volunteer buyers in September 2019.

The two 16-year-olds were sold (by the shop’s owner, Subramaniam Satkunaruban), a bottle of Archers Schnapps Aqua Raspberry. No ID was asked for, the volunteers weren’t asked their age or any questions at all.

Following the sale, a trading standards officer went into the shop to discuss the matter with the seller. No ‘Challenge 25’ display material was present, and no refusals book was available.

In court, Mr. Satkunaruban and licencee, Shanthini Sivathasan, both pleaded guilty to one offence of selling alcohol to persons under the age of 18. Mr. Satkunaruban was fined £300, ordered to pay a £32 victim surcharge and ordered to pay a £500 contribution towards costs, a total cost to him of £832.

Ms. Sivathasan was also fined £300, ordered to pay a £32 victim surcharge and ordered to pay a £500 contribution towards costs, a total cost to her of £832.

Councillor Ian Dalgarno, our Executive Member for Community Services, said:

In both these instances we were acting on information from members of the public; vital intelligence to stop children having unsupervised access to alcohol. In one case, a bottle of wine was sold to a 13-year-old.

Anyone concerned about a shop selling alcohol to children or selling counterfeit alcohol or illegal tobacco products should notify us by calling 0300 300 8642 or emailing trading.standards@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

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