POLICE have stated that they are considering enforcing a Police Closure Notice on a Leek pub.
Staffordshire Police Licensing Unit have issued a number of closure notices to pubs in Newcastle town centre after they repeatedly sold alcohol to underage customers.
Three venues (Lymestone Vaults, Revolution and London Road Tavern) all sold alcohol to juvenile volunteers posing as customers twice within a three month period. By doing so they committed the offence of persistently selling alcohol to children.
All of the venues were made aware of their failure on the first occasion and yet failed a follow-up compliance test.
A police spokesman said: “Of the three venues who sold alcohol on a second occasion only one of the members of staff at the three venues had received any refresher training following the first sale at the venue.
“This demonstrates an unacceptable attitude towards a serious aspect of the licensing regime by the venues involved.
“Underage sales within the Newcastle area are currently at an unacceptably high level and since January 2013 a total of 18 venues within the town and its immediate vicinity have sold alcohol to juvenile police volunteers.
“The venues which have sold twice within three months have been issued with a Police Closure Notice. This can last between two and 14 days in lieu of going to court over the matter where the maximum penalty is a £20,000 fine and up to three months closure of the premises.
“All three venues issued with the notices have accepted the closure offered to them by the police and the closure periods are scheduled to take place during the last week of March.”
The police spokesman added: “Similar operations have recently been carried out in the Leek area, with two taking place in the last month resulting in 11 premises selling to the police volunteers.
“Only one venue (Roebuck Hotel) has sold on a second occasion. This matter is currently being considered for a Police Closure Notice.”
David Bott, who co-owns Titanic Brewery which runs The Roebuck in Derby Street, said: “I’m surprised that the Roebuck has been caught doing this.
“Having said that - we can’t argue that we have been caught out.
“We are taking extra measures for staff to be more vigilant.”
As for the police considering a Police Closure Notice for the Roebuck, Mr Bott added: “We will be disappointed if they do that as The Roebuck does not deserve that.”
Chief Inspector Ricky Fields, force lead on licensing, said: “The sale of alcohol to juveniles is undoubtedly a serious matter. It can have an impact on the long term health, education, employment prospects and it also heightens the individual’s risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator of crime.
“The subsequent investigations into these failures by licensed premises show that the venues which sell alcohol to children are not, in the majority of cases, doing what would reasonably be expected of them.
“In a bid to reduce incidents of underage sales Partners Against Business Crime in Staffordshire have acquired funding which will allow additional training to be delivered to bar staff. This training will be free of charge for staff working in bars and clubs within the county.
“We have also teamed up with the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Responsible Bodies Group, which comprises of police, trading standards, local authority licensing teams, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, the National Health Service and members of the licensing industry itself.
“As part of our work with trading standards we will be providing business support to licensees in the areas where underage sales of alcohol are at an unacceptably high level.
“The testing of venues across the county for underage sales of alcohol will remain a top priority for our licensing unit and tests will continue to be carried out on a regular basis. Any venue that sells alcohol to a juvenile volunteer will be retested within a three month period to check that preventative measures have been put in place.”