EU nationals 'ban' under fire

Somerfield defends policy of strict ID criteria for foreigners buying alcohol

Somerfield has defended its decision to ban EU nationals from buying alcohol in its stores if their only proof of ID is a foreign passport.

A Brighton branch has stoked up local controversy after Belgian Katrien Rennemeier, 22, and Jessica Olsen, 24, from Denmark, were refused service when they tried to buy drink.

Somerfield apologised to the women but said it was acting responsibly.

"The company accepts three forms of ID for alcohol purchases: British passports, British driving licences and Citizen Cards," it said in a statement.

"Anyone - regardless of nationality - can apply for a Citizen Card and

forms are freely available in our stores."

It added: "Somerfield has not banned foreign youngsters from buying alcohol in its stores. As a local community retailer, Somerfield takes its social responsibilities very seriously and has a strict code of practice for alcohol sales .

"We accept that it must be frustrating for people who are legally entitled to purchase alcohol to be refused on the basis of unacceptable ID, but the rules regarding acceptable forms of ID are in place to help protect our store colleagues ."


told local newspapers: " Targeting foreigners living here is really not going to solve the issue [of under-age drinking in Britain]. I am disgusted."

In Brief

Somerset police target boozing

Police in Somerset

will patrol parks and open spaces to catch under-age drinkers and report them to their parents. Alcohol will be seized from under-18s and


about the dangers they pose to themselves and others will be given as part of the Somerset Tackling Alcohol-Related Crime project. Parents will be asked to work with the police to prevent further problems, and purchases will be traced to stores to check that ID procedures are being properly followed.

Zimmer man jailed for assault

A man who threatened to batter staff at a Bournemouth off-licence with his walking stick has been convicted of attempted robbery. Kevin Staples, 59, was caught two days after the incident when he attempted to rob a gift store in Crawley, West Sussex, while walking with a

Zimmer frame. Staples, who suffers from arthritis and back trouble, was jailed at Bournemouth Crown Court after admitting robbery, attempted robbery and assault. He will not be considered for parole for at least four years.

Refusals book enforced

An off-licence in Dagenham, east London, has been ordered to keep a refusals book, a staff log book of those allowed to serve alcohol and introduce a Challenge 21 policy after cider was sold to 16-year-olds in a police sting. Pick & Save in Green Lane has also been told by the local licensing committee that it must keep a record of staff training after incident.

Customer helps nab thief

An Oxford man who robbed an off-licence was caught after a member of staff recognised him as a regular customer. Wayne Townsend, 25, of Lyndworth Mews, Headington, forced staff to open the till and safe at a nearby branch of The Local, fleeing with £504 in cash and £150 in alcohol and cigarettes. Townsend was jailed for three-and-a-half years after admitting a charge of robbery.

Fines in Operation Milkshake

Staff at three off-licences in County Durham were given on-the-spot £80 fines after being caught in a test purchase sting dubbed Operation Milkshake by local police. The shops in the Edenhill area of Peterlee, Horden and Blackhall all sold alcohol to two girls in their mid-teens. Ten other stores refused to sell drink to the girls.

Trading Standards probe

More than half the shops in a test purchase operation in the Essex town of Chelmsford sold alcohol to under-age customers. Essex County Council Trading Standards said it would investigate the five out of nine stores that failed the test before deciding on further action. All will be retested and a licence review sought for those that fail a second time. One sale was made by a store's designated premises supervisor. Councillor Roger Walters said: " Shops are made well aware of their responsibility not to allow young people to buy alcohol, so there really is no excuse ."