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Shops face £2bn fines for selling alcohol to minors

England’s retail sector may face fines of £2 billion (US$2.3bn) a year for selling alcohol to underage customers.

Recent research suggests that 37% of ‘school children’ admit to obtaining alcohol each month

ID Crypt Global, the digital identity specialist, found that there was a ‘sheer volume’ of underage customers purchasing alcohol on a yearly basis in corner shops and supermarkets.

Referencing an NHS study, the digital specialist said that 37% of ‘school children’ admit to obtaining alcohol within the timeframe of one month, equating to 1.7 million 11-17 year olds in the England.

Just 2% of respondents – an estimated 34,124 minors – admitted to buying alcohol from a shop, which could result in fines from the Trading Standards of £170.6 million (US$202m) a month.

The Trading Standards, which are the local authority departments within England, are responsible for handing down penalties and fines for the selling of alcohol to minors.

The selling of alcohol to a minor on licensed premises is a level-three fine, which can cost up to £5,000 (US$5,748).

The CEO and founder of ID Crypt Global, Lauren Wilson-Smith, commented: “These sales are in danger of facing some substantial financial penalties if caught.

“£5,000 is a huge fine but it’s not only the fine that has to be taken into consideration. It’s the responsibility of each licence holder to ensure they uphold the law.”

There are an estimated 409,483 illegal alcohol sales made via the nation’s shops each year, according to ID Crypt Global.

Wilson-Smith noted that more than 900,000 11 to 17-year-olds have a fake ID in England, so the problem is not simply “negligence” on the part of the retailer.

The research also found that the stores are at risk of £677m (US$778m) in fines from illegal tobacco sales per year, too.

Wilson-Smith added: “The good news is that 21st century technology is helping to advance the ways we can prove an identity, by allowing consumers to create verified, digital proof of identity that can be stored via mobile devices securely and with no third party access to personal data profiles.”

In the August issue of The Spirits Business magazine, we explored how the drinks industry is pushing back against the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) call for alcohol advertising bans and greater restrictions to be introduced.

In 2021, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology was utilised by UK supermarkets to tackle underage alcohol sales, analysing people’s faces to identify their age.

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