Denton and Reddish MP, Andrew Gwynne, has today raised his concerns over new research revealing that almost 6,000 convenience store workers experience verbal or physical abuse every day when asking customers for identification to confirm their age.
The research was commissioned by Under Age Sales, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN).
Worryingly, a third of retail workers reported that these attacks leave them less confident when asking for identification to legally confirm an individual’s age, raising concerns that young people may have continued access to alcohol and tobacco, which are potentially harmful and linked to anti-social behaviour.
It is against the law to sell alcohol to someone under 18 anywhere, and can lead to a maximum fine of £20,000 for any pub or retailer; with repeat offenders facing the possibility of having their premises shut down.
In recent years however more businesses have begun to adopt a ‘Challenge 25’ policy, with most of the main supermarket chains, such as, Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, The Co-operative, Bargain Booze and Waitrose all applying the Challenge 25 policy. Many independent off-licences continue to apply Challenge 21 or Challenge 25 policies.
Andrew Gwynne said:
“Requesting I.D from someone you suspect might be underage isn’t just sensible, it is a lawful practice which should never be met with the threat of abuse or physical harm.
“Retailers have reported to Usdaw and the NFRN that they are often verbally abused, spat at or attacked when confronting someone to confirm their legal age, that’s completely unacceptable.
“Violent crimes of this nature remain stubbornly high and I believe the government should be doing more in terms of sentencing and support to make sure retailers and newsagents more broadly feel safe and protected.”
Paul Baxter (NFRN Chief Executive) said:
“With retail crime incidents soaring, more has to be done by the police and government before even more retailers are driven out of business. We look forward to working together with Underage Sales Ltd and Usdaw to raise awareness of the scale of violence and abuse retailers face and the working on a solution.
 Home Office, Persistently selling alcohol to children, 2012. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/98110/selling-alcohol-to-children.pdf