Alcohol Test Purchasing

Tel: 07771 540066
UK advisors on licensing requirements

Alcohol Test Purchase

Professional, accredited consultancy providing advice on the test purchasing of alcohol and tobacco

Alcohol Test Purchase – Retailers Beware

Local Authorities together with agencies such as the Police & Trading Standards are under a statutory duty to ensure compliance with all aspects of licensing law.

These duties are normally undertaken in a spirit of partnership and cooperation with the licensed traders that operate within their boundaries. Initially support can be provided in various forms, dependent upon the local authority, from information leaflets and site visits to training seminars and one to one meetings.

However, should the authorities suspect wrongdoing or poor operating procedures and practices in either a specific area or specific premises, they are then duty bound to investigate by gathering intelligence and evidence. One method of establishing the extent of the perceived problem is to send in a volunteer child under the supervision of a responsible officer to attempt a 'test purchase' of age related goods, like alcohol and tobacco.


The only proof required is that the test purchase and sale took place and that the individual served was under 18 years of age. Best practice suggests that the child should look their age.

The responsible authorities will review the evidence and then decide whether to pursue the matter via a criminal prosecution and/or alcohol licence review or to issue a warning. Warnings are always held on file and should further similar issues arise then the earlier evidence would be added to the more recent failures thereby possibly indicating an ongoing history of poor practice.


The consequences of failing such a test purchase are serious and could, dependent on the circumstances, result in a fine of up to £20,000 for the alcohol licence holder/designated premises supervisor and up to 6 months in prison and the permanent revocation (loss) of the premises alcohol licence.


Mistakes will happen even within the best run business, however operators should ensure they minimise the risks to themselves and their business by always acting in a responsible manner particularly when selling alcohol by for example, properly training their staff regarding the sale of alcohol.

Training should be undertaken before staff are allowed to use the tills for the first time and then at regular intervals thereafter, the regularity of refresher training dependent upon the needs of the individual staff member. All training records and systems/procedures should be evidenced in writing to demonstrate to the authorities that the retailer has always acted in a responsible and diligent manner.

For further information, please call Richard Baker.

Free Window Posters & Notices

(.pdf downloads - please click on images to print/view)

it is a criminal offence to buy alcohol on behalf of a child
it is an offence for persons under 18 years tp purchase alcohol
under the provisions of the licensing act 2003


Please call Richard Baker with any questions you may have.

07771 540066 or email us HERE

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