HEALTH chiefs have spoken of their disappointment after the number of retailers in North East Lincolnshire caught selling alcohol and cigarettes to under-age customers almost doubled in the last year.
A total of 17.5 per cent of retailers failed test purchases between April and September, a rise from nine per cent over the same period last year.
However, North East Lincolnshire Council said it was lower than the 22 per cent failure rate of 2007, and test purchases of knives and fireworks had found 100 per compliance.
The council said 15 premises had failed test purchases for alcohol or cigarettes and further action would be taken against them, which could involve licence reviews, two-week closure notices, formal cautions and prosecutions.
Coun Dave Bolton, portfolio holder for community safety and neighbourhoods, said: “These results show that there is still a need to check businesses that sell age-restricted products such as alcohol and tobacco to ensure that they are complying with the law.
“If they do fail a test purchase it is important that they are provided with advice on how not to sell to young people. Reducing the availability of alcohol and tobacco to young people is a high priority for this council to reduce the risk of harm to children, both short- and long-term.”
Beverley Compton, head of improved health in the borough, added: “These results for alcohol and tobacco are disappointing but the public can rest assured that action is being or has been taken against these businesses to ensure that they are punished for breaking the law and are aware of their responsibilities and how to get this right.”
Test purchases are intelligence-led and based on complaints by concerned members of the public.
To report concerns about under-age sales, or to find out how to volunteer as a test purchaser, call 01472 324770.