Scotland's shoppers must be alerted to the 'Think 25' policy says Usdaw

Date: 11 November 2010 The shopworkers Union Usdaw is calling on the Scottish Government to launch a major publicity campaign to ensure Scotland's shoppers are made aware of the 'Think 25' policy that will shortly become mandatory for all licensed premises in the country.

Most responsible retailers in Scotland already operate the 'Think 25' policy for sales of alcohol and other age-restricted products, but the passing of the Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Bill by MSP's yesterday, will now make it a legal requirement for all licence holders to do so.

Last year over a million shopworkers were assaulted, threatened or abused while at work and nearly a half of all incidents of abuse resulted from shopworkers asking customers for proof of age ID or refusing a sale of an age-restricted product such as alcohol.

John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said:

"Just last week we revealed that over three-quarter of shopworkers have experienced problems asking customers for proof of age ID and that nearly one in six have been threatened with violence and more than 2% actually physically assaulted. These incidents are not just the result of youngsters trying to buy alcohol and cigarettes, they are increasingly caused by older shoppers who are asked for ID or refused a sale under the 'Think 25' policy."

"Usdaw supports the policy, but most shoppers over 18 simply don't understand why they are asked for proof of age ID and many will certainly object when a sale is refused because they cannot produce any. We have been calling for a UK wide campaign to make shoppers aware of the policy to help reduce incidents, but now 'Think 25' is to be made a legal requirement in Scotland, a major publicity campaign is absolutely essential to help protect shopworkers."

"Scotland's shoppers need to understand that shopworkers asking for proof of age ID are only doing their job and protecting themselves from a possible fine, criminal prosecution or disciplinary action from their employer."

Notes for Editors:

  1. Section 5 of the Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Bill amends the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 to make it a condition for all licence holders to have an age verification policy in relation to the sale of alcohol on the premises. It specifies that; "an 'age verification policy' is a policy that steps are to be taken to establish the age of a person attempting to buy alcohol on the premises (the customer) if it appears to the person selling the alcohol that the customer may be less than 25 years of age (or such older age as may be specified in the policy)".
  2. Most responsible retailers already operate a 'Think 25' policy on age-restricted sales which means shopworkers are instructed to ask for proof of age ID from any customer the shopworker thinks might be under 25. Many retailers previously had a 'Think 21' policy and the change to 'Think 25' has greatly increased the potential number of customers who are now routinely asked for ID. As a consequence, the number of potential flashpoints for abuse, threats and violence has also increased.
  3. Usdaw's age-restricted sales survey also revealed that over 70% of shopworkers are worried about facing criminal prosecution if they get a decision about an age-restricted sale wrong with over 60% worried about being disciplined by their employer.
  4. Shopworkers face an £80 Fixed Penalty Notice (on-the-spot fine) for a first offence of selling alcohol to someone under-age with a court appearance and/or fine of up to £5,000 for subsequent offences. Most fines are in the region of £500.
  5. Most retailers use specialist test purchasing companies to ensure the 'Think 25' policy is being implemented and any member of staff who fails a test purchase could be subject to disciplinary action including possible dismissal.
  6. Usdaw's annual Freedom from Fear survey revealed that over a million shopworkers were assaulted, threatened or abused in the past year. The survey showed that 6% of shopworkers were subjected to violent attack, 37% were threatened with harm and a massive 70% had suffered verbal abuse.
  7. For further information on Usdaw's Freedom from Fear campaign and Respect for Shopworkers week visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/ourcampaigns/freedomfromfear.aspx
  8. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest trade union, with over 390,000 members. Usdaw is the country's fastest growing trade union; membership has increased by more than 15% in the last four years and by over a quarter in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers