Controlled purchase operations to tackle underage drinking

Most establishments that sell alcohol are law abiding and would never serve anyone who is, or appears to be, underage. Unfortunately, there are still some unethical business owners who are prepared to turn a blind eye and serve people who are under the age of 18. The fact that alcohol is being sold to underage teens is infuriating to the families who have lost loved ones due to alcohol-fuelled violence. Luckily, so-called “controlled purchase operations” are underway to sniff out bottle shops and other venues that are prepared to sell drink to minors.

A controlled purchase operation means that an undercover minor is sent into a shop or bar to buy alcohol.  This lets the authorities build up an accurate picture of which establishments are breaking Australian underage drinking laws. Ignorance is no excuse, because the onus is on the person serving the teen to ask for ID if they’re in any doubt about their age.

Businesses selling tobacco to underage kids have already been stung during similar operations.  We know they work, and they have also proven to be successful in the U.S and UK. Thanks to these kinds of initiatives, it’s possible to catch unscrupulous business owners and stop them from selling drink to minors in the future.

Some critics have argued that a majority of underage drinkers actually get their drink off older friends and family members, and while this is true, shops and bars serving minors are still a very real and serious problem. Businesses and individuals who serve underage drinkers are liable for fines, but only if they get caught!

Alcohol is an addictive drug, and nobody thinks it’s acceptable to sell other dangerous drugs to children and young teens. Why should alcohol be any different? As well as ruining the lives of young drinkers and their families, time and again alcohol has been linked to violent crimes. Supporting these controlled purchase operations is a positive step we can take towards tackling alcohol-related youth violence.