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Prosecutions for under-age alcohol sales fall to quarter of 2008 level

... even though third of 11-15-year olds have been getting hold of booze

The number of adults prosecuted for supplying alcohol to underage drinkers has fallen to just 142 in the last year, according to figures released today.

Despite a third of 11-15-year olds admitting to having obtained alcohol in the last month in a recent poll, prosecutions of adults buying it for them are at a quarter of the level they were in 2008. The latest data was released after Freedom of Information requests to the think tank Demos, which is calling for tougher punishment of those who help children buy booze.

Police and local authorities should use the threat of tougher punishments to discourage proxy-purchasing, according to a report published by the think tank today. It argues community service focused on the impact of alcohol, such as clearing up city centres the morning after big nights, would be a justifiable penalty.

Other ideas include banning people from their local off licence, or even prominently displaying posters by the counter to 'name and shame' those caught breaking the law.

Jonathan Birdwell, head of the Citizens programme at Demos and author of the report, said: "The majority of teens get their alcohol through parents, friends and older siblings, rather than buying it themselves. However, these proxy-purchasers aren't facing the consequences for the harm they are doing.