For a number of years now, the British Beer & Pub Association's Challenge 21 scheme has been raising awareness among publicans and their staff of the need to be vigilant in preventing underage sales.
The scheme serves as a reminder to customers that it is against the law to purchase alcohol if you are under 18, or to purchase alcohol on behalf of someone who is under 18.
In 2010 it became a legal obligation for all licensed premises to have an age verification scheme such as Challenge 21 in place. (The law is different in Scotland where Challenge 25 is mandatory).
All licensed premises are required to have an age verification policy in place and Challenge 21 is the best known and most widely used scheme in the trade.
Tough penalties are in place for serving someone who is underage – this can include a fine of up to £20,000.
Research has demonstrated that 90% of 18-24 years olds are aware of the Challenge 21 scheme, demonstrating the success of the scheme amongst its key target group.
75% of 18-25 year olds have been stopped and asked for ID when buying alcohol as a result of an age verification scheme. This demonstrates the success of Challenge 21 and similar schemes amongst its key target group.
There is also a high level of awareness amongst young people and retailers of Challenge 21.
Pubs turn away over one million customers each month who, when challenged, are unable to provide acceptable proof of age - clearly indicating the trade is making a huge effort to enforce the law and prevent underage sales.
Between 2000 and 2013 the proportion of young people in England (11-15 year olds) who tried alcohol fell from 59% to 39%.
Since a peak in 2001, the proportion of children drinking in the past week had dropped from 26% to 9%.
The BBPA and its members have circulated over 300,000 Challenge 21 posters to British pubs - with thousands more downloaded, for free, from the BBPA website. Hard copies of the Challenge 21 poster can be obtained from the BBPA shop (free to members) or downloaded for free below.
As well as displaying the Challenge 21 poster visibly, it is very important that pubs ensure they include Challenge 21 into their staff training programmes. Staff need to be aware they are required to ask for identification and understand what are acceptable forms of ID.
National Pubwatch has released its new Challenge 21 film. The engaging film has been produced to provide Pubwatch members with a simple training tool which will allow them to provide information to their bar staff. The film can be found here.
Steve Baker Chair of National Pubwatch said, “the criticism of the pub and hospitality trade for under age sales continues to be an issue despite the fact that for many years they have had the superb Challenge 21 scheme in existence. We have decided to promote the scheme and at the same time show, how bar staff can demonstrate due diligence by following a few simple steps when checking ID.”