THE Colchester and East Essex Co-op has launched a new campaign to help tackle under-age drinking.
The initiative, which is being piloted in the Co-op's Fiveways and Connaught Avenue Foodstore in Frinton, before being progressively rolled out across the entire trading area next year will mean the sale of alcohol will be initially restricted to persons aged 21 years and above.
"After discussions with representatives including local and district councillors, we have agreed to pilot the scheme in Frinton," said James Day, the society's Secretary.
"Whilst it's true that there are certain individuals in any community who can act in an anti-social way, we don't believe it's endemic in Frinton. The society is planning to extend the new policy to all our stores in the near future," he added.
As well as conducting a comprehensive staff training programme ahead of the launch, posters and point of sale advertising can now be found in both Frinton stores which state: "The age limit for the purchase of alcohol inthis store is restricted to persons of 21 years and above. If you appear to be under the age of 21 years and wish to purchase alcohol you will berequired to show any of the following:
`1. Acceptable identification – new style driving license with photo; new citizen card, 'prove it' card or similar 'proof of age' scheme.
`2. Unacceptable identification – national insurance card; student card; birth certificate; old style driving license without photo.`
Persons between 18 and 21 who are able to provide the above identification and proof of age will then be allowed to purchase alcohol. The Co-op hopes that by raising the age limit for the purchase of alcoholwill deter under-age drinkers from even attempting to purchase alcohol fromits retail outlets.
`As a responsible retailer, we're sending out a clear message to under-agedrinkers that we don't want them trying to purchase alcohol in our stores,` said Mr Day who adds that protecting staff is also a factor in implementing the new policy.
`It's increasingly difficult for any retailer to tell the age of young customers who are not carrying official identification and we want to give our staff total confidence in knowing they are selling alcohol only to customers who are entitled to buy it.`