Call to 'tag' bottles of alcohol in Scotland

Image caption,
Scottish Labour have called for widespread use of the bottle tagging scheme

Scottish Labour have called on local licensing boards to enforce the "tagging" of bottles of alcohol to help reduce under-age drinking.

Under the scheme, off licences are given a unique code to mark bottles so they can be traced to a specific store.

If under-age drinkers are found with a tagged bottle, officers can check the shop's CCTV to see who bought the alcohol.

The Scottish government said tagging was an "operational matter" for police.

A tagging scheme is currently in place in parts of Dundee after being introduced by Tayside Police, working with Dundee City Council and local off licences.

Scottish Labour said it was urging licensing boards to use bottle tagging in other "hot spot" areas where under-age drinking and antisocial behaviour have been found to be a problem.

Antisocial behaviour

Labour's Community Safety spokesman James Kelly said: "Under-age drinking can all too often be a direct cause of antisocial behaviour in communities across Scotland.

"This innovative but simple approach will hopefully help bring to justice those peddling booze to young people."

Mr Kelly said those who supplied alcohol to young people needed to realise that they were often "fuelling antisocial behaviour" as well as breaking the law.

He added: "The SNP may be happy to turn a blind eye to antisocial behaviour, but Labour is not. I urge licensing boards to adopt this new approach to hammer home the message that supplying under-agers with alcohol is never acceptable and will not be tolerated."

The Scottish government said it had always encouraged police to make use of bottle tagging in the fight against under-age drinking.

A spokesman said: "As an intelligence-led tool, it can help forces crack down on the problem by proving that certain shops are selling alcohol to under-18s.

"Bottle-tagging remains an operational matter for police, often deployed during targeted exercises against under-age drinking. However, we would caution against the blanket deployment of this measure, to ensure it remains effective."

The Scottish Conservative party said it had "reservations" about the practicality of the bottle tagging scheme and that it should be made more difficult for people to buy alcohol for under-age drinkers in the first place.

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