A Bit Of A Challenge

Happy birthday to Challenge 25. The age-verification scheme, operated by the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group, is eight this year. And to coincide with that anniversary, a report has been published analysing the last eight years and crunching some numbers. Now we’re all familiar with this scheme that was introduced as a means of combatting a rise-or perceived rise-in underage alcohol consumption. The idea is that anyone who appears under 25 will be asked to produce proof of age. The scheme has hit the headlines several times, usually when an overzealous employee has demanded proof from an OAP or suchlike. However, the report is, perhaps unsurprisingly, celebratory about its success but does highlight one or two concerns for the future.

A growing problem is apparently the number of shop staff verbally and sometimes physically abused by people refused an alcohol purchase. The report recommends that the government introduces an aggregated offence of “assaulting shop workers” to deal with this. Whilst such behaviour is of course completely unacceptable; you would imagine that better enforcement of current legislation would be a more logical first step. Also on the rise is so-called “proxy purchasing” where friends or even parents buy alcohol for the underage. The report acknowledges that this is a difficult problem to solve and outlines a number of strategies, including better education, to help tackle it.

The raw data makes for interesting, if not palatable, reading for the anti-alcohol lobby. In the eight years of the scheme, the number of young people drinking in the past week has dropped 18%. Even more dramatic is the fall in total alcohol consumption of 16-24 year olds which has plummeted 24%. Not surprising to those of us who actually concern themselves with facts and not hyperbole but how would our old friend Alcohol Concern react? Organise street parties in unrestrained jubilation? Whilst acknowledging that “it was encouraging to see the number of young people drinking falling”, they warned that “worrying trends still remain and need tackling”. Oh well, if there is a cloud to be found in a silver lining, then AC will find it.


RedNev said…
As the law currently stands, any child aged five or over can drink alcohol at home or on other private premises. If they tighten up proxy purchasing, will giving your kid a glass of sweet sherry at Xmas become illegal? I wouldn't be surprised, although I can't see how it could be enforced; not that that would stop the alco-fascists from proposing it.
Curmudgeon said…
Actually it's slightly different - anyone who looks 25 or under should be asked for proof of age, even if they appear obviously over 18. No wonder young people are put off drinking and going to pubs.
Tyson said…
Yes, good point. Duly corrected to make that clear. Also slightly worrying is the number of people over 25 who are turned away because they can't prove it.
Meer For Beer said…
It has happened to me on a few occasions, they claim that everyone usually has id on them in the form of a driving license... this is not always the case especially in London as most use public transport.
Curmudgeon said…
Some people with no intention of learning to drive have been known to acquire provisional driving licences to use as a form of ID.

Popular posts from this blog

The Kimberley Club

Cloudwater Brewery Tap

That Friday Feeling