TWO Burton pubs which were caught serving alcohol to 15-year-olds have been told they must enforce tougher policies to ensure it does not happen again.
The Devonshire Arms, in Station Street, and the Olde Royal Oak, in the Market Place, were foiled when police sent in the youngsters during a series of test purchases carried out in September.
Bosses at the two premises have now been told they must clamp down on asking for proof of age for anybody who looks under the age of 25, in the Challenge 25 scheme held up by police to be the answer to tackling underage sales.
The sanction was imposed at an East Staffordshire Borough Council licensing meeting last week.
Chairman Councillor Jackie Jones said: “This behaviour undermines the licensing objective of protecting children from harm.”
Volunteers, who were chosen particularly because they looked the age that they were, went into the pubs in pairs and asked for alcohol.
However, when the barmaid at the Olde Royal Oak was interviewed after the sale, she said she thought they had looked in their twenties.
The 18-year-old member of staff who served the youngsters in the Devonshire Arms said she thought they looked like some girls who were in the year abover her at school. She had not wanted to risk embarrassment by asking for ID.
Sergeant Tracey Carsley, who is in charge of the licensing department for the south of the county, described the incident as a one-off for this ‘generally well-run pub’, adding that the issue would be abated by imposing Challenge 25.
Geoff Mumford, co-director of the Burton Bridge Brewery, which runs the Devonshire, said the scheme was already in place across the five pubs run by the company.
He added: “We are happy to comply.”
A representative was not present from the Olde Royal Oak, but the committee was told the landlords had agreed to comply with Challenge 25 ‘at the 11th hour’.
Challenge 25 has been in place in off-licences for several years, and has proved to be a success.
However, it has not yet been enforced for pubs and clubs. Police said they were hoping it would become standard.
Councillor Andrew Riley said: “This should be the minimum. It should be applied to all premises.”