Off-licence in Sheffield caught repeatedly selling alcohol to children

An off-licence in Sheffield which repeatedly sold alcohol to children faces a hearing to decide its future.

Monday, 22nd January 2018, 4:09 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd January 2018, 4:15 pm
Sheffield Convenience Store (photo: Google)

Staff at Sheffield Convenience Store, on West Street, in the city centre, failed test purchases by under-18s three times in just over six months between June and November last year.

On one occasion, when police subsequently visited the shop to fine the worker responsible, they discovered he was an illegal immigrant.

The licence holder is due to appear before members of Sheffield Council's licensing sub-committee next Tuesday, after South Yorkshire Police requested a premises licence review.

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Ian Armitage, the force's licensing enforcement officer, who requested the review, said he believed the test purchase failures, coupled with breaches of the store's licence, showed the shop was 'operating without a responsible management team'.

He told how police volunteers aged under 18 had visited the shop on June 14, July 17 and November 28, and on each occasion bought alcohol without being challenged by staff.

In August last year, police investigating purchases made at the store using a stolen bank card were told CCTV footage had disappeared, he revealed in his submission to the committee.

Following the first two test purchase failures, he said police had met representatives from the store and the council's child safeguarding team to draw up an action plan.

But during follow-up visits to check the store was complying with the plan, police found the licence holder was absent and spotted gaps in the refusals book.

Julie Hague, from Sheffield Safeguarding Children Board, told how the board had attempted to help the store operator improve standards but without apparent success.

In a letter to the council's licensing sub-committee, she wrote: "The board is concerned that despite the designated premises supervisor having received verbal and written advice, an information pack and multi-agency training, operational standards have failed to improve, to the extent that a further sale of alcohol was made to a child under the age of 18 on November 28, 2017.

"In light of the support given to the premises management and ongoing concerns regarding persistent underage sales of alcohol to children, the board is writing to request that the licensing sub-committee takes positive action to protect children from the risk of harm evidenced to be presenting at this premises."