Sunday, 8 November 2009

Challenging our rights

I recently saw a young woman ahead of me at the checkout queue in my local supermarket get ID’d for alcohol sales. She had a somewhat “studenty” appearance, but to my mind looked about 24. There was no way on earth she was under 18. It turned out she was 27. She took it in her stride, and indeed might even have felt a little flattered at being thought under 25. But this really underlined how obnoxious this particular policy is. The legal age for alcohol sales is 18, and I have no problem with people who are, or who genuinely appear to be, under 18 being asked for ID. For the avoidance of doubt, I can, I suppose, see the point of “Challenge 21”. But extending the age to 25 is utterly ludicrous. And it must really hack people off to be effectively accused of a crime every time they go to buy alcohol. The basic principle of law in this country always used to be “innocent unless proven guilty” – Challenge 25 turns this on its head. Fortunately as an ancient, over-50 bastard I don’t have this problem.

13 comments:

  1. A young friend of mine had the identical experience just yesterday in her local Spar; she's 25.

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  2. I don't have this experience either. I don't buy alcohol (or anything else if I can help it) from Supermarkets. If you have a decent independant retailer handy, please use it, otherwise get used to the continued onward march of shit service from Big Retail, and Big Alcohol.

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  3. I had a similar experience trying to buy a bottle of gin from my local co op. To be honest I was delighted!

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  4. I saw a chef from my local, who is 29, being asked for id when he was trying to buy some roll-ups at the co-op. He has hints of grey in his hair — the woman was (sorry is as she remains alive) in her 50s, so I wondered if it was an example of inter-generational misunderstanding (a sort of perverse misreading of the ‘policemen are getting younger’ syndrome). When I was 21 I was asked if I was old enough for the eight bottles of Holsten I proffered to the counter (that dates me), I was rather pleased.

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  5. I'm also an 'over-50 bastard' so I don't have the problem either but I don't feel that there is anything wrong with having to prove your age to buy alcohol. I don't think “innocent unless proven guilty” really applies as no one is being accused of a crime - it is purely a matter of indentification. I've never understood why anyone should be afraid of 'owning up' to who they are. If you want to withdraw money from a bank you need some form of identification. If you are a licensee getting it wrong can be quite costly. I don't see the problem with belt and braces.

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  6. Same issue as drink-driving, Paul - of course the guilty should be identified and punished, but why should the innocent be constantly treated as suspects?

    If you are asked your age when buying alcohol - when you obviously look over 18 - it is in effect levelling an unwarranted accusation at you. If I was 23 or 24 I would be raising hell with supermarket managers.

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  7. Sorry PC - I sympathise with shop assistants (and bar staff)playing cautious with age -it's very hard to put an age on females in particular. A responsible management needs to train it's staff to protect it from an over-zealous law.

    I'm no sympathy, however, with supermarket staff exercising no common sense and refusing to sell to adults accompanied by minors as recently reported.

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  8. Shop assistants have to do their job according to the rules laid down - the problem is with the company policies.

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  9. In view of the penalties that can be imposed both on shops and on individual employees for selling booze to under age customers, I can't blame them for being very cautious. I would in their position. I do have serious reservations about the entrapment practiced by councils that send under age children in to ask for alcohol.

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  10. Wilf in the Vault9 November 2009 at 00:10

    If supermarkets had to give out a 50p voucher for every fake challenge, it would soon curb their enthusiasm.

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  11. was in a Sainsburys at the weekend and the woman in front of me in the queue got asked for ID because of a bottle of wine in her shopping. she had a young face, but was clearly in her 20s - and would a teenager be spending 47 quid on shopping (quite fancy ingredients too), paid for with a credit card?

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  12. A friend of mine was once asked to prove she was old enough to buy alcohol at the age of 41. But that was in the Land of the Free.

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  13. In the US they card everyone in many states. Gray hair and a cane won't get you out of it. Maybe it's preparation for totalitarianism, you know - "Show us your papers."

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