My Visit to Trading Standards

Last month I wrote about the sale of tobacco to those underage and how this is still an area of concern to Cornwall Council Trading Standards. Out of that blog, one of the trading standard staff invited me to their office to show me what work they carry out. 
Considering Licensing is one of the major roles I carry out at Cornwall Council it was certainly worth the visit as it really gave me a real insight to the work they undertake and in turn, many of the problems they face when trying to tackle underage sales of tobacco and alcohol.  
For instance, during the period of 2010-2011 a total of 128 premises where visited with 187 test purchases of alcohol were attempted. Out of those visits 33 sales were made from 25 premises. This is a 19.5% failure rate, or those of a positive mind, an 80.5% pass rate. It was interesting to note that no night club failed because of the positive way door staff vet people before they enter. 
I was also shown large quantities of alcohol and tobacco that were brought during the various test purchase operations. Some of the items have to be kept for a while due to court cases, but others are just stored because apart from pouring it down liquid down the drain there is no real way of disposing it. 
It is not all about ‘test purchases’ as the real work goes into educating the owners of the various establishments and in turn highlighting the serious financial penalty and criminal conviction is they sell, and continue to sell to those under the legal age. The trading standards team also travel to schools in a project call Operation Blitz. This is aimed at making sure teenagers are aware of the risks around alcohol and smoking.
The officers asked if I knew of any responsible teenagers of the ages 14-16 if they would like to be part of a test purchase team, as the officers say they really struggle finding volunteers. If any reader knows of anyone, then contact me, or trading standards who will give you more details.
I really got  a lot out of the visit and would like to say thank you to the two officers who took the time to answer my questions. 

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