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The Scottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership (SGAIP), the North Lanarkshire Community Safety Partnership and Police Scotland, working closely with local retailers, have launched (29th June) a campaign in the area to raise awareness of the fact that buying alcohol for anyone under the age of 18 is a criminal offence which carries a fine of up to £5,000 or up to three months in prison, or both.

 John Lee, Head of Public Affairs at SGF and Chair of the SGAIP Campaigns Group, said:

 “The success of initiatives such as Challenge 25 have helped reduce the number of direct sales of alcohol to under 18s, but young people are increasingly accessing alcohol by other means. Asking an adult to buy alcohol for them is one of the most common tactics used. This campaign will raise awareness of the serious consequences of buying alcohol for anyone under the age of 18 to help reduce underage drinking in the local area.”

 The Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 makes it an offence for a person to “act as an agent for a child in purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol

 Superintendent John McTear at Police Scotland said:

“Underage drinking contributes to antisocial behaviour, crime and violence in our local communities. During the lighter evenings and school holidays we expect to see more young people congregating. Most are perfectly well behaved, however some may consume alcohol after purchasing it themselves or arranging for someone else to do so and then engage in disorder. Local police will continue patrols and targeted operations where we know this to take place, to reduce attempted purchases of alcohol for under 18s.”

 The campaign is being launched in North Lanarkshire and will run until the end of summer. Learnings and successes from this trial will shape future campaigns across Scotland.




SGF Call For Simpler Licensing Law in Scotland

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation and the Association of Convenience have submitted a joint response to the Scottish Parliament Health Committee’s call for evidence on the new Alcohol and Public Health Bill.

 The response opposes the provisions contained in the Bill to impose further restrictions on the advertising and promotion of alcohol and to encourage Licensing Boards to make greater use of bottle marking schemes.

 If passed the Bill would become the 6th primary piece of alcohol legislation to have been enacted by the Scottish Parliament since 2009. Additionally there have been 35 secondary pieces of legislation put into effect – taken together this means it is now extremely difficult for retailers to fully understand and comply with licensing law in Scotland.

 SGF chief executive Pete Cheema said,

“We need licensing law to be simplified not made more complex. Initiatives such as bottle marking schemes provide no evidence of wrongdoing by retailers and are of no use in trying to deal with the problem of proxy purchase. It is not possible to manually and individually mark all alcohol products in store and make the marks distinctive from store to store The Scottish Parliament needs to get it right on licensing law – the burden of compliance always fall on retailers.”

Retailers Say No to Deposit Return Scheme

Scottish Grocers Federation and ACS join forces to oppose bottle return scheme

 The trade associations have just submitted a joint response to the call for evidence from Scottish environment agency Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) on the feasibility of implementing a Deposit and Return Scheme (DRS) in Scotland. The deposit and return scheme is aimed at increasing recycling rates and reducing litter by encouraging consumers to return empty containers to retail outlets. DRS schemes focus primarily on beverage containers but the proposed Scottish scheme could be the most wide-ranging in Europe and include all types of aluminium cans, cartons, glass bottles, plastic bottles and containers.

The joint SGF-ACS response strongly argues that this is the wrong solution for Scotland and that convenience store retailers would be simply unable to store and process the anticipated high levels of returns envisaged by the feasibility study. Additionally DRS would increase cost for consumers and throw into reverse the considerable progress Scotland has made in implementing kerbside recycling services.

SGF Chief Executive Pete Cheema said,

“We have serious concerns about this entire process - the ZWS feasibility study has not looked at the potential impact on convenience store. A typical convenience store will sell around 3,000 units a week of soft drinks alone. Space is always at a premium for convenience store retailers - how could a store be expected to cope with the anticipated high levels of return?”

ACS Chief Executive, James Lowman, said: "A deposit return scheme would bring massive new burdens on local shops, add cost to the supply chain, and lead to less recycling through local authority kerbside collections.  The Scottish Government should stop and think about the impact of such a scheme on businesses and on the environment."



SGF Briefs Scottish Parliament on Reducing Alcohol Harm

Scottish Parliament Debate

Shona Robison: Making Progress on Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol

The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) and ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) represent the interests of convenience retailers in Scotland.  There are currently 5,545 convenience stores in Scotland providing employment for 42,255 people and making a valuable contribution to communities across Scotland.

We believe it is important that the Scottish Parliament recognises the positive progress that has already been made to reduce alcohol harm in Scotland. The Scottish Health Survey 2013 shows:

  • Average weekly unit consumption has declined over the years for both men (from 19.8 in 2003 to 13.7 units in 2013) and women (from 9.0 in 2003 to 6.8 units in 2013).
  • Hazardous or harmful drinking has declined among both men and women since 2003 (from 33% to 22% in men and from 23% to 16% in women)

We welcome this debate on ‘Making Progress on Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol’ and would like to highlight the important contribution that convenience retailers have made to the responsible retailing of alcohol in Scotland.

Challenge 25

Challenge 25 was originally a retailer led voluntary initiative used to prevent underage sales to young people.  The Challenge 25 is now a mandatory part of the Scottish Alcohol system and has been highly effective in reducing underage sales.  A prime example of how retailers have led the way in preventing alcohol harm. 

The number of prosecutions for purchasing alcohol for consumption by persons under 18 fell from 156 in 2009/10 to 64 in 2011/12 (Answer to written question in the Scottish Parliament S4W-13828).

Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAPs)

ACS and other industry bodies fund community alcohol partnerships that bring together retailers, local authorities, policy and communities to tackle underage drinking and alcohol related harm collaboratively.  CAPs are well established across England and now developing in communities across Scotland. SGF is a key partner in the East Edinburgh Community Alcohol Partnership.

Proxy Purchasing

Retailers have made such inroads in preventing underage sales that the primary source of alcohol for young people is through Proxy Purchasing.  This is often through parents, older siblings or friends.  This was recognised by the Chief Constable of Police Scotland in his annual report of 2014 to Scotland’s Licensing Boards.

ACS and SGF want to see more action to educate parents and adults about the dangers of proxy purchasing alcohol for their children.  The government should do more to reinforce that this is illegal and that people will be prosecuted.

The Sottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership

The Scottish Government and Alcohol Industry have come together to create an effective low cost partnership that has worked to deliver cultural change towards alcohol in Scotland.  The partnership has worked with on-trade and off-trade partners to encourage responsible consumption of alcohol and make the night time economy safer.

Responsibility Deal

 The industry has also delivered on a number significant Responsibility Deal pledges across the United Kingdom through the Department of Health:

  • To remove 1 billion units of alcohol from shop shelves by lowering alcoholic content or offering alternative drinks. Sales data shows that over 1.3 billion units were removed from the market between 2011 and 2013
  • To place labels on 80% of all drinks bottles that included safer drinking guidelines, unit content and a warning that women should not drink while pregnant.

For further information on this briefing please contact John Lee, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Scottish Grocers Federation; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0131 343 3300


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