Issued By
West Yorkshire Trading
Standards Service

Proof of Age Partnership is a success in Wakefield

Sales of age-restricted products to underage youngsters such as alcohol and cigarettes have been reduced throughout the Wakefield District since the introduction of the Proof of Age Partnership in April 2003.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service launched the Partnership, with the backing of Wakefield Council, to ensure that retailers were asking for identification before selling any the age-restricted products to any one they suspected to be under the legal age. All secondary schools in the District were visited and approximately 5,000 Proof of Age cards have been issued to 16-18 year olds. Alongside this important work with schools, Trading Standards Officers visited the 800 retailers of age-restricted products throughout the District to inform them of their legal obligations concerning the sale of age-restricted products to children.

West Yorkshire Police in the Wakefield Division also ensured that all the pubs and clubs were aware of the operation of the Partnership by visiting them and issuing each licensee with a guidance pack.

The Partnership has been a phenomenal success. It was evaluated by sending out questionnaires to all involved to obtain their views. The majority were very supportive of the aims of the Partnership. Most retailers commented that having the schools on board increased their confidence that youngster’s dates of birth are correct and that every young person old enough to purchase age-restricted products legally will have been issued with a card. Pupils involved state that they carry the card to obtain the discounts from shops such as WH Smith, Wakefield Superbowl and GAME.

The full evaluation report can be viewed on the West Yorkshire Trading Standards website at www.ts.wyjs.org.uk but some of the results include:

? 68% of retailers felt that there had been a reduction in the number of youngsters trying to purchase age-restricted products since the launch in April.

? 64% of youngsters say they have been asked to show their Proof of Age card since the launch.

? In the six months before launch of the Partnership there were 4 sales of alcohol to a youngster on a formal test purchase. In the six months after the launch no sales were made.

Councillor Graham Clarke, Chair of West Yorkshire Joint Services said, “I am very pleased at the findings of the formal evaluation of the Proof of Age Partnership. I now hope to see the Partnership roll out across the rest of West Yorkshire”
Gill Metcalf, headteacher at Freeston Business and Enterprise College at Normanton added “I am delighted that the Proof of Age Partnership has proved to be such a success. Anything that makes it more difficult for underage children to purchase age-restricted products has to be commended.”

Councillor Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council said "I am very pleased that the Proof of Age Partnership is working both for young people and for retailers. These figures show that this is a worthwhile and effective scheme which merits the Council's continuing support."

Notes to Editors

Anyone wanting to report traders who they suspect are selling age restricted products to children should telephone the West Yorkshire Consumer Helpline on 0113 3848848

A photo opportunity is available at WH Smith at The Ridings Centre, Wakefield at 14:00 on 10th December 2003. WH Smith offer 10% on production of the Proof of Age card to encourage youngsters to carry the card with them.

For further information contact:

Carol Hallett: General Media Contact and Proof of Age Co-ordinator: 0113 3836407