Published: 06 March 2014
Q: One of my staff failed a test purchase recently and when I reviewed the CCTV of the incident the underage test purchaser was accompanied by a middle-aged couple who were openly talking to her during the purchase. Is this usual?
A: Test purchasing operations become more sophisticated by the day.
Originally the test purchaser was usually on their own and the Officers carrying out the operation either waited outside or were inside the premises but stood away from the bar in order to view the process.
We have heard of similar instances as yours where, as part of a test-purchase operation older officers accompany an underage person who then, almost as an afterthought during conversation at the bar attempts to purchase alcohol. It is easy for the member of bar staff, seeing the older members of the party, to assume the purchaser is also 18 or over, but clearly if this is not the case then the result can be a failed test purchase.
Putting aside any arguments about ‘entrapment’ or lack of partnership working on the part of the authorities, the message is clear – be prepared for a combination of possibilities during test-purchasing operations. Never assume that because the people accompanying the purchaser are clearly over the age for challenge that the younger person is also, even when he/she may appear to be. Adhere to your age verification policy and don’t allow any exceptions.
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