- Challenge 21
Challenge 21 is a scheme in the United Kingdom introduced by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) aimed at preventing young people gaining access to age restricted products including cigarettes and alcohol. Under the scheme, customers attempting to buy age-restricted products are asked to prove their age if in the retailer's opinion they look under 21, even though the minimum age to buy alcohol and cigarettes in the UK is 18. The scheme was launched in 2005 in a JD Wetherspoon outlet in Biddulph. The scheme has since been taken over by RASG (the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group).
According to government figures the scheme has been successful in reducing the number of under-18s gaining access to alcohol.
In May 2007, it was reported that Asda stores in Scotland were operating a Challenge 25 scheme, whereby anyone who appeared to be below the age of 25, seven years above the age required to buy alcohol in the UK, could be asked to provide a form of ID such as a passport, driving licence or PASS-accredited proof of age card.
As of 2011, all four giant supermarket chains (Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons) along with Marks & Spencer and Bargain Booze apply Challenge 25 and are renowned for exceptional strictness in the matter of showing identification. Adults well over 25 shopping with a younger partner, child or friend have been refused service in some cases because it was thought that the alcohol was being bought for the possibly underage young person. Several stories have made the national news in which supermarket managers have trialled a policy of asking all alcohol purchasers for ID irrespective of apparent age, which has led to senior citizens as old as 86 being refused service.
Waitrose continues to apply Challenge 21, as do many independent off-licenses; enforcement is less stringent in many of these establishments. Top end off licenses such as the food halls of Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, Spirited Wines, and the long established shops around Soho are not currently members of the RASG at all; it would be most unlikely such a shop would have its license revoked, as they cater to a discerning clientele who are far less likely to be under age or proxy purchasers and are not associated with irresponsible drinking.
In recent years pubs and supermarkets have come under increasing pressure from the government to prevent the sale of alcohol to under 18s. Currently the law comes down much heavier on those selling the alcohol than those illegally buying it. The police regularly send underage young people into pubs to try and purchase alcohol. Pubs, managers and staff members face fines for being caught. Repeat offenders face a risk of losing their license. Pubs are responding by training their staff to ask people for proof of age if they can't immediately tell if a customer is old enough and as a way of encouraging vigilance are likely to sack staff members who get caught selling alcohol to underage people by the police.
The Alcohol etc. Scotland Act 2010 required all licensed premises in Scotland to have an age verification policy which would require age to be verified if it appeared to the person selling alcohol that the customer is under 25.
- ^ British Beer & Pub Association
- ^ Challenge 21
- ^ Home Office | Press Office | Underage alcohol sales down
- ^ Asda raises bar over ID | Off Licence News - The Voice Of Drinks Retailing[dead link]
- ^ Tesco stores adopt Challenge 30 policy | Off Licence News - The Voice Of Drinks Retailing
- ^ http://press.homeoffice.gov.uk/press-releases/alcohol-industry-underage-sales.html
- ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/pubs/6920099/Government-has-launched-war-against-pubs.html
- ^ http://press.homeoffice.gov.uk/press-releases/Joint_Crackdown_On_Underage_Drin.html
- ^ http://www.thisisderbyshire.co.uk/news/Police-pub-licence-review-staff-serve-underage-drinkers/article-958672-detail/article.html
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