Published: 21 November 2017
Q: I have just taken on the Lease of a pub and am looking through the licence; it states that I must operate Challenge 25 but I am not exactly sure what this means. Can you help?
A: Challenge 25 is becoming more prevalent in the on-trade. It is somewhat ironic because recent figures just released show that underage sales of alcohol to under 18s by pubs and bars is at an all-time low; greater awareness, campaigns by Industry Associations, the increasing absence of 18-24 year olds from pubs and better staff training have all had an impact on this.
Remember that there is a mandatory condition on every Premises Licence that there must be a policy in relation to underage sales in place; however this is silent as to detail. Challenge 21 was and remains the preferred “challenge policy” for the on-trade. Challenge 25 originated in the off-trade where there it is generally considered greater risk in relation to children under the age of 18 attempting to purchase alcohol and indeed several years ago had more evidence of failed test purchases.
It is therefore common place to go into a supermarket and see staff wearing their “Challenge 25” badge which seems in the main to be rigorously enforced as friends of mine in their early 30s can testify.
It is becoming more common now in the on trade also even though the evidence is going the other way. On many new licences, variations or where there have been problems the police and/or Trading Standards will push for the higher policy of Challenge 25.
The policy means in practice that anyone who appears to be under the age of 25 who attempts to purchase alcohol must be asked for an acceptable form of identification to prove that that person is over the age of 18. It does not mean that you cannot sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 25. The reason why some do not like it is because they are effectively having to challenge more people and this would include, if the policy is applied strictly, customers who have already been challenged before and if their ID has been forgotten they should be refused service.
The condition means having that policy in place and in practice that there is evidence that staff are being told about the policy and ideally a note of the training is retained.
I am afraid that in the current climate once the condition is on there it will be difficult to remove and compliance is the only option.
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