Volunteers are sought for alcohol test purchasing

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AS local police press ahead with preparations for alcohol test purchasing, the Banbridge Area Commander has insisted most retailers are behaving responsibly.

According to Chief Inspector Ken Mawhinney a lot of the alcohol finding its way into underage hands “comes from home”.

“That’s where it starts,” he said, as he was asked at last week’s DPP meeting about the local introduction of alcohol test purchasing, where young volunteers are used to determine whether retailers are selling alcohol to minors.

Mr. Mawhinney said they had been waiting for almost two years to get the go-ahead for the legislation to undertake test purchasing and, though some youth group leaders were voicing serious reservations on moral grounds, they were currently seeking young people as volunteers.

“You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” he said, “but we are going in that direction and hopefully in the near future we will be running our first operation.”

Mr. Mawhinney did say, however, that he didn’t believe there was a big prevalence of young people buying drink; it was more a case of older people buying drink and giving it to young people, and for off-licences and supermarkets that was virtually impossible to counter.

Among the audience, Dromore Councillor Carol Black agreed it was not always young people buying the aclcohol.

She had actually witnessed it herself, she said, and sometimes the older people concerned were not that much older than the young people they were buying for.