Town pubs caught in under-age booze sting

TWO Morpeth pubs have been reported to licensing officials after a child of 13 was served alcohol with no questions asked.

Two volunteers, aged 13 and 15, took part in a test purchase operation by Morpeth’s neighbourhood policing team and Trading Standards officers following concerns from residents about underage drinking in the town.

Four pubs were visited by the teams and, while the teenagers were turned away from the Black Bull and The White Swan, with staff challenging the volunteers and refusing to serve them, other premises readily handed over drinks.

The 15-year-old was served alcohol without problem in Shooters bar.

And the 13-year-old was served at Chambers bar, without even being asked for any identification.

Three people have been reported for serving alcohol to underage youngsters as a result of the test.

Morpeth Acting Inspector Dave Simpson said: “I am thoroughly disappointed that licensed premises continue to serve alcohol to those who are underage.

“They have a duty under the Licensing Act to prevent harm to children. Openly selling alcohol to children as young as 13 indicates that this duty is not being taken seriously.

“Some of the premises we visited though were truly professional and refused to serve the children.

“As a result of this operation, three people have been reported for serving alcohol to those underage.

“We will also be passing on the results of this operation to Northumberland County Council licensing department and we will be following up on this operation in the coming weeks and months by using similar tactics to target those selling alcohol to children.”

As well as continuing to keep watch on licensed premises over the festive period, extra officers will patrol Morpeth town centre in general to try to ensure a safe Christmas. for shoppers and revellers.