This week’s Kent and Sussex Courier carries the story of 17 year old Oliver Rawlinson, who went into various supermarkets and off licences this week in an attempt to buy a bottle of red wine. Oliver is underage, and stores are legally bound to check this and ask him to produce proof that he is over eighteen. Surprisingly, three quarters of the outlets Oliver visited – among them Marks & Spencer, Sainsburys,Wine Rack and Iceland were fully prepared to sell Oliver alcohol.
With more and more town centres invaded as war zones on Friday and Saturday nights by staggering and paralytic youths, there’s never been a more critical time to get our legislation right on under age drinking and alcohol sales.
A few years ago, Government brought in legislation to prevent drunken anti social behaviour in town centres by declaring them ‘glass free’ zones. This was intended to prevent people wandering aroung with bottles of alcohol. The reaction of the industry? Several brewers brought out their beer in “Tetra Pak” milk style cartons to get around the law.
Until the companies start to take the problem seriously – and both trading standards and licensing authorities begin to crack down hard on those who break the law – I suspect Oliver, who is Youth MP for Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks, will be able to buy his fill of booze up and down the country.