Proxy purchasing campaign goes national

The SGF’s Dr. John Lee (right) at the launch of a proxy purchasing campaign in North Lanarkshire.

A CAMPAIGN aimed at preventing adults from purchasing alcohol for under 18s has been rolled out across Scotland.

The ‘It’ll Cost You!’ campaign seeks to raise awareness of the steep penalties those engaged in proxy purchasing can face, as well as the consequences for local communities.

A national rollout for the campaign follows pilot schemes run by the Scottish Alcohol Industry Partnership – an organisation comprising representatives from leading companies, and their trade associations, involved in the production and sale of alcohol in Scotland.

Working in partnership with local authorities and Police Scotland, the SIAP has run successful pilot schemes across Lanarkshire, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Trials “consistently showed a drop in street drinking and anti-social behaviour” according to Police Scotland.

Through the campaign, 38 adults were reported for buying alcohol for children. Two stores were also reported for repeatedly selling alcohol to under 18s.

The campaign has also benefited communities, Police Scotland reported. Youth disorder incidents were reduced by 10% in the North Lanarkshire pilot, while analysts found the campaign contributed to a 51% reduction in reports of children drinking on the street.

Asking adults to make a purchase is one of the most common tactics used by young people to access alcohol, Police Scotland said.  Those adults who do buy alcohol for children are committing an offence and may face a fine of up to £5,000. Depending on the circumstances, they could also face a prison sentence of up to three months and a criminal record.

Superintendent Hilary Sloan, Police Scotland, said: “This campaign highlights the multitude of issues which can be caused through underage drinking and by buying alcohol for teens. We want to help keep our young people safe from alcohol-related harm, as well as reducing anti-social behaviour and crime in our communities.

“Additionally, proxy purchasing is an offence, which could result in a prison sentence. The lighter evenings of the summer will see an increase in police patrols around Scotland to reduce attempted purchases of alcohol for under 18s.”

Dr. John Lee, chair of the SAIP campaigns group and head of policy and public affairs at the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, said: “The success of initiatives such as Challenge 25 have helped reduce the number of direct sales of alcohol to under 18s, but young people are increasingly accessing alcohol by other means. Asking an adult to buy alcohol for them is one of the most common tactics used.”