Essex

Challenge 25 proof of age scheme begins in Colchester

A scheme aimed at preventing the sale of alcohol to under-18s has started in a town in Essex.

The "Challenge 25" initiative will see Colchester retailers able to ask anyone who looks under the age of 25 for valid ID when trying to buy alcohol.

It is hoped this will make it more difficult for children to buy a number of age-restricted goods.

Essex Trading Standards will visit shops in the next three months to encourage them join the scheme.

The project has been set up by Essex Trading Standards, Colchester's Community Safety Partnership and Essex Police.

'Challenge people'

Conservative Essex county councillor Roger Walters said it followed a successful pilot in Harlow and similar schemes elsewhere in the county.

He said: "It's been brought about by the success of some of the big companies doing it.

"They found it easier to get staff to challenge people who are around 25, rather than the 18-year-olds who can get quite cross about it."

He added it could also help with so-called "proxy sales" where underage people get older people to buy alcohol for them.

He said: "In some cases if they think they've got a problem with it, then Trading Standards or police will go and sit in the shop and wait for this to happen and then make prosecutions."

The "Challenge 25" scheme will also allow shop owners to ask for ID for other goods such as solvents and age-restricted films and video games.

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