Fight for change in airside laws

A local police authority is being urged to lobby for a change in the law that allows airside alcohol retailers at airports to escape prosecution for under-age sales.

Sussex Police’s licensing team became frustrated after carrying out test purchases at Gatwick Airport last year and discovering that no prosecutions could be brought for under-age purchases.

The force has been working with the Global Infrastructure Partnership – which bought Gatwick Airport late last year – to communicate responsible retailing messages, including improving staff training for airside retail staff.

But two premises failed further test purchases for under-age sales in February this year, and three in June.

In a document submitted to the police authority’s neighbourhood policing scrutiny committee this week, chief constable Martin Richards and chief executive John Godfrey said: “While this is an improvement, it is still unacceptably high.”?The paper added: “At least two premises have sold to children on two separate occasions. However, no enforcement action can be taken against them.”?It says the change in government and the consultation on licensing make it “an ideal time to take this matter forward to central government”.

Airside bars and shops are exempt from the requirement to have a premises licence to sell alcohol, effectively making them immune from prosecution for under-age sales. This allows disorderly conduct on licensed premises and the sale of alcohol to drunks.

Carole Shaves, chairman of the neighbourhood policing scrutiny committee, said: “With the agreement of the committee, Sussex Police Authority will endeavour to promote changes to the law regarding airside licensing at Gatwick Airport.” ??