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Booze retailers 'put profits ahead of community wellbeing'

Last updated 07:35 22/06/2012

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Police are working to combat a worrying trend in which liquor stores across the city are selling alcohol to under-18s without bothering to ask for identification.

On Friday and Saturday last week police liquor licensing staff carried out a controlled purchase operation at 77 booze outlets.

Five people aged 16 and 17 helped police by attempting to buy alcohol from off licensed premises without any identification.

Police say 17 bottle shops sold to minors without requesting or sighting ID.

The operation is proving that some licensees and duty managers are placing profitability above the health and wellbeing of our youth and community, alcohol harm reduction co-ordinator Sergeant Jason Loye says.

Shops found to be in breach of the law are spread across the district.

"These were in the east, west and in Auckland central. No-one is any better than anyone else."

Mr Loye says as well as operations like this one, information comes to the police from school principals, parents and the teenagers themselves who may have been caught by police.

"A lot of licensees and duty managers are being slack in allowing untrained and unqualified staff to operate their business. There could be a culture shock to find their premises closed because of this.

"They are trying to save a few bucks. Staff don't know what they are doing – some of these are part time staff," Mr Loye says.

Alcohol misuse remains a key aggravator of offending and victimisation.

Controlled purchase operations have been conducted for a number of years to test the identification practices of a person selling a legalised drug with the potential to cause serious harm.

Alcohol features in more than half of all police business from minor to major crimes.

Research shows about two thirds of minors get alcohol through older family members.

Only parents and legal guardians can legally provide a person under 18 with alcohol.

Mr Loye says liquor stores need to ensure that staff are adequately trained and mature enough to be able to refuse service where appropriate.

The result is very disappointing considering the advertising and training available to businesses, Mr Loye says.

Underage drinkers are adept at identifying easy liquor outlets and bars, where workers tend not to ask for identification.

Police says it's important to adopt the `no photo ID, no service rule'.

The outlets with detected breaches will be presented to the Liquor Licensing Authority with a request for suspensions of the license and managers certificates involved.

Some staff are facing the possibility of a criminal conviction.

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The operation was carried out with assistance from Auckland District Licensing Agency and Regional Public Health staff.

- Auckland City Harbour News

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