A SENIOR councillor is appealing to off-licences in the borough to adopt a scheme to prevent underage drinking.
Under the terms of Challenge 25, anyone buying alcohol who looks under the age of 25 is asked to produce valid identification.
Off-licences are legally obliged to have a policy outlining their approach to checking the age of customers, but Coun Arthur Meeks, chairman of South Tyneside Council’s licensing and regulatory committee, would like to see more of them volunteer to adopt the scheme.
Coun Meeks said: “We are all aware of the problems associated with underage drinking and the negative impact that this can have on our neighbourhoods, and there is a clear link between alcohol consumption and youth disorder.
“One of the best ways we can break that link is to stop alcohol from getting into the hands of young people.
“The Challenge 25 scheme is very effective as it allows those in charge of the sale of alcohol a greater margin of error when challenging customers for proof of age. It also makes it clear to under 25s that they should expect to be challenged to prove their age.”
Coun Meeks is reminding anyone wishing to hold a one-off event over the festive period of the need to apply for a Temporary Events Notice.
The council must follow Government legislation, which states that applications must be received at least 10 working days before the event.
He said: “If you are thinking of holding an event, we’d advise you to get in touch as soon as possible because the council is bound by law to adhere to nationally-imposed timescales when dealing with applications.”
He added: “I’d also like to remind adults that they should not buy alcohol on behalf of children as it is an offence that could leave them with a court appearance, heavy fine and a criminal record.
“Residents who suspect premises are supplying alcohol to underage drinkers should report them to us so that we can investigate and, if necessary, take firm action to deal with the problem.”
Anyone wishing to report underage sales can call a confidential hotline on 0800 093 5878.
Alternatively, text the word UNDERAGE and details to 07786200802, or report it online at: www.reportitonline.co.uk.