Youngsters to test alcohol sales
Under-18s are to be asked by police to test whether off sales are observing the age limit when selling alcohol.
The PSNI is seeking young volunteers to come forward as it prepares to roll out new test purchase powers.
Police have insisted that the powers, which are supported by the licensed trade, are not designed to entrap traders or catch them off guard. Retailers will be given advance notice of when tests will be carried out in their general area.
Chief Superintendent Peter Farrar said: "The illegal sale of alcohol to minors can have devastating effects on individuals and the wider community.
"Police are committed to protecting communities and young people. The test purchase of alcohol powers will greatly assist in the prevention of the illegal sale of alcohol to children, protecting them and our communities from harm.
"The test purchase of alcohol scheme is not designed to entrap licensees or their staff into making an underage sale of alcohol, nor is it intended to catch them off-guard.
"Rather, test purchase exercises are an opportunity for licensees and their staff to fully embrace their responsibilities and ensure that under 18 year old persons are not illegally sold or supplied with alcohol.
"Selling alcohol to under 18 year old persons is a serious offence that could result in a maximum fine of £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment upon conviction."
Colin Neill, the chief executive of Pubs of Ulster, said responsible retailers had nothing to fear from the scheme.
"Pubs of Ulster fully support the use of test purchasing powers, we have worked very closely with PSNI to ensure the policies and procedures within this area are sufficiently robust and fair for the trade," he said.