The latest research by digital identity specialists, ID Crypt Global, has revealed that the nation’s corner shops and supermarkets are running the risk of £2bn in penalty fines due to the sheer volume of under 18s purchasing alcohol on a yearly basis, with a further £1.6bn as a result of tobacco sales to underage children.
A recent NHS study found that 37% of school children admit to obtaining alcohol within the time frame of one month. With 4.6m 11 to 17 year olds across England today, that’s 1.706m underage drinkers illegally obtaining alcohol in a single month.
While just 2% of them revealed they had purchased this alcohol from a shop, rather than via alternative means such as stealing it from their household, this still equates to an estimated 34,124 children illegally purchasing alcohol via the retail sector in the space of a month.
That’s an estimated 409,483 illegal alcohol sales each and every year, but what are the potential consequences for those facilitating these sales? Whether knowingly or not.
The maximum penalty handed down by Trading Standards for selling alcohol to a minor on licensed premises is a level three fine to the tune of £5,000.
This means that even with just 2% of under aged drinkers purchasing their alcohol from a shop, the retail sector could be running the risk of being hit by fines to the tune of £170.6m per month, over £2bn on an annual basis.
In contrast to under age drinking, just 3% of 11-17 year olds admit to currently smoking, however, 32% stated that they purchase their tobacco products from a shop. That’s still some 44,268 children illegally purchasing tobacco products via licensed premises, with 22,577 admitting to doing so at least once a month or more.
This means that, with 22,577 children purchasing tobacco products once a month at the very least, a total of 270,923 illegal tobacco sales are taking place on an annual basis.
While the maximum fine handed down is also considerably lower at £2,500, this still equates to a potential of £56.m per month in fines, amounting to £677.3m on a yearly basis.
Of course, with the advent of vaping and its soaring popularity amongst children, this figure is likely to be far higher than those who smoke more traditional tobacco products alone.
CEO and Founder of ID Crypt Global, Lauren Wilson-Smith said, “It’s estimated that over 900,000 11 to 17 year olds have a fake ID in England, so it’s fair to say that it isn’t just negligence on the part of retailers that is to blame when it comes to the sheer volume of children illegally obtaining alcohol and tobacco products on a yearly basis.
But whether they do so knowingly or not, those that facilitate these sales are in danger of facing some substantial financial penalties if caught.
£5,000 is a huge fine but it’s not only the fine that has to be taken into consideration. As a mother of four children, I understand how important it is to try and do all we can to keep our loved ones safe. Allowing this to continue is a scary but very real situation. It’s the responsibility of each licence holder to ensure they uphold the law.
The good news is that 21st century technology is helping to advance the ways we can prove an identity, by allowing consumers to create verified, digital proof of identity that can be stored via mobile devices securely and with no third party access to personal data profiles.
These advancements are doing away with the old age illicit practice of fake IDs, as well as preventing many more from illegally purchasing goods without an ID altogether.
For British businesses, investment into this technology is certainly money well spent as it provides peace of mind and removes the potential of financial penalties for the sale of alcohol or tobacco to minors, ensuring that every customer can be quickly and easily verified at the point of sale.”