Portsmouth hotel bar banned from selling booze after serving underage drinkers in police sting

The Holiday Inn in Farlington has been caught serving underage drinkers
The Holiday Inn in Farlington has been caught serving underage drinkers
  • 14 premises are tested and three fail
  • Holiday Inn barred from serving alcohol for 96 hours
  • Police pledge to carry on tests
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A HOTEL bar in Portsmouth has been temporarily stopped from selling alcohol after it served booze to an underage drinker in a police operation.

On Sunday police went out with teenagers and visited 14 premises.

Eleven passed, but three – the Holiday Inn in Farlington, and All Bar One and Bowlplex at Gunwharf Quays – failed.

The Holiday Inn has been issued with a 96-hour closure notice because it is the second time it has failed in two months, and the Gunwharf venues have been given fixed penalty notices.

Licensing officer PC Pete Rackham said: ‘We are always disappointed when any licensed facility fails our tests, by selling alcohol to test purchasers, however we do celebrate the success of those premises, and their staff, who did pass their test.

‘We will continue to work with licensed premises to prevent the sale of alcohol to children.’

Police have tested 95 venues in the last two months, and 25 of those failed.

In addition to receiving fines, or having licences reviewed, premises that fail test purchase operations are subject to further tests.

District Commander Chief Inspector Jim Pegler said: ‘Many of the problems we see as police officers in Portsmouth are related to substance abuse. This certainly includes alcohol abuse which fuels violence in public and private spaces. As a result we treat the sale of alcohol to children seriously, and for that reason it’s really important that licensed premises take responsibility for exercising age verification policies, such as “Challenge 25” properly.

‘I am pleased that the vast majority of premises passed the test-purchase operation; however we will continue to visit premises that are found to sell alcohol to children who are underage.’

A Bowlplex spokeswoman said: ‘We take our responsibilities in selling alcohol very seriously and we provide ongoing training to all of our team members, in addition to working closely with the Hampshire police.

‘We are very disappointed that this happened, and – even though it is the first of its kind to occur since we took over Bowlplex Portsmouth almost 18 months ago – we still consider it to be one too many.

‘As a consequence, we have since met the licensing officer and have voluntarily joined the yellow and red card scheme that operates in Portsmouth alongside the Pubwatch scheme. We have also retrained all of our team members at the centre and put a number of additional procedures in place – including a 100 per cent ID policy and carrying out independent testing – to safeguard against this happening again in the future.’

The operators of Holiday Inn and All Bar One have been approached for a comment by The News.

The licensed premises that passed the test purchase operation are: Castle News, Southsea; Gin and Olive, Southsea; Porters, Southsea; Wine Vaults, Southsea; Aurora Café, Southsea; Royal Albert, Southsea; Duke of Devonshire; Shack Bar and Grill; Bar 38, Gunwharf Quays; Tiger Tiger, Gunwharf Quays; Old Customs House, Gunwharf Quays.