News

Forest Hall shop has licence suspended for selling booze to youths

17 May 2018 13:00 PM

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A shop in Forest Hall has had its alcohol licence suspended for three months after selling booze to groups of underage youths.

On Wednesday 25 April, a licencing sub-committee was held at The Langdale Centre to review the alcohol licence for Rai Stores of Forest Hall Road.

It was decided that Rai Stores alcohol licence was to be suspended for three months, with the committee requesting CCTV and staff training were also tightened up.

Killingworth Neighbourhood Policing Team had been working closely with partners at North Tyneside Council to address recent community concerns of anti-social behaviour in the Forest Hall area.

A spike in reports and feedback from residents earlier this year suggested that large groups of youths were gathering and consuming alcohol around Springfield Park.

While officers tried to educate the youths and their parents about the dangers of alcohol, it soon became clear that a local convenience store may be selling booze to persons under the age of 18.

A number of test purchases were carried out to identify whether booze was being sold to children.

Between November 2017 and January 2018, Northumbria Police Licencing Officer Neil Kirkpatrick visited Rai Stores five times in a bid to get their CCTV system improved. Although the work was agreed to, staff came up with repeated excuses as to why it had not been completed.

On Friday 16 February, Killingworth NPT officers on patrol saw a group of youths passing around a bottle of vodka outside of the premises. Enquiries later revealed that a staff member had sold the spirits to a 16 year old male who passed it around a group of friends.

This sparked Northumbria Police and Trading Standards to request a review of the alcohol licence.

Sergeant James Brady of Northumbria Police said they would continue to target premises that are selling alcohol to youths in the area.

He said:

“My team have worked with partners from North Tyneside Community Protection Team and Trading Standards to address concerns that were raised within the community. 

“We have tried to educate local youths about the dangers of alcohol. Even when they are behaving, gathering in large groups can cause concerns and be intimidating to other members of the community. 

“We want a neighbourhood where everyone can go about their business without feeling frightened or upset by other people’s behaviour.  We also want a neighbourhood where businesses act in a responsible manner. The sale of alcohol to underage youths could put them at great risk.

“I am pleased with the result from the licencing committee and grateful for the support of our partners and the community. This result was made possible by information received from the community and I would encourage the public to keep reporting matters of concern so that we can address them.”

Richie Mitchell, North Tyneside Council’s Community Protection Team manager, said:

“The Community Protection team within North Tyneside Council works closely with Northumbria Police to tackle the concerns reported to us by communities.

“The team have undertaken joint late night working patterns to help collate information and evidence of reported youth disorder in Forest Hall area.

“It’s important to recognise that the vast majority of youths in the area are extremely well behaved and treat their community with respect. When a business like Rai Stores knowingly and repeatedly sells alcohol to underage youths, it significantly contributes to levels of youth disorder in the area and creates a safeguarding concern as it increases the vulnerability of the youths.

“We are delighted to continue our work with the police and together we will continue to tackle anti-social behaviour across the borough.”

In addition to a three month suspension of their alcohol licence, Rai Stores’ designated premises supervisor was removed and has been prohibited from being in the licensed area of the premises at any time when it is open. Rai Stores have 21 days to appeal this decision.

If anyone has any concerns about anti-social behaviour in their local community, then they can call 101 and ask for their local neighbourhood policing team or report it online at www.northumbria.police.uk/contact.