Brown: drinks shops will be 'punished'

Gordon Brown singled out off-licences as he warned of further action on binge-drinking in his speech to the Labour Party Conference.

Speaking to delegates at the conference in Bournemouth, the British Prime Minister said drinks shops caught selling alcohol to kids would be punished. “Let me tell the shops that repeatedly sell alcohol to those who are under age – we will take your licences away,” he said.

Brown also called on the drinks industry to “do more to advertise the dangers of teenage drinking” and on councils to ban alcohol in trouble spots.

Speaking to the media before his speech, Brown also said he would “look again” at 24-hour drinking. Brown said he would “not hesitate” to “act in the interests of the country” if evidence showed a change of policy was needed.

Responding to Brown's comments, Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “There has never been a tougher set of penalties available to police and local authorities to punish retailers who sell to those under age. The Prime Minister’s comments are therefore disappointing because we need new approaches to tackling under age drinking and the only way to combat this problem is tackle both supply and demand.

“In particular, the government needs to promote educating young people on the dangers of drinking and have enforcements against those young people who break the law by deceiving and intimidating retailers to obtain alcohol.

“It is also disappointing that the Prime Minister’s comments give no credit to the vast improvement in our sector’s performance in test purchasing campaigns. Far from being singled out for criticism, shops should be praised for leading the way in promoting the Challenge 21 message and preventing under age purchases.”