August saw Andy Merricks, Managing Director and Founder of The LSS Group, attend a workshop hosted by the Home Office.
The focus of this event, which was attended by a small group of industry-related influencers, was to explore how well the current Licensing Act is equipped to uphold licensing objectives. The most important item on the agenda was the protection of children from harm with regard to on-line alcohol sales.
A face to face on or off-sale business will usually have a Challenge 21 or Challenge 25 policy in place and staff are trained on how to verify a customer’s age. However, there is ever-increasing popularity for purchasing alcohol via home delivery, whether it be Delivery on Demand (the likes of Deliveroo) or scheduled deliveries from supermarkets and on-line wine sellers.
For online purchases, to verify your age you just need to tick a box when placing your order to say you’re over 18. Since the sale is deemed to have taken place at the point of supply (the restaurant or warehouse) the delivery driver wouldn’t be in breach of the licensing act as the supply/sale has already taken place.
Andy comments: “With a move towards a cashless society, it’s not unusual for a child to have a debit card and therefore able to easily to make an on-line payment for age-restricted goods. The industry has done a great job in policing underage face to face sales so the easy route to alcohol for minors is through on-line ordering.
The delivery companies will tell you that their drivers are trained not to leave alcohol at the address if the recipient is under age, but are these drivers doing these checks? I would say very few do.”
Without taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut, what can be done to ensure the licensing objectives are upheld and we continue to keep our children safe where alcohol is concerned?