A city centre Tesco could be stopped from selling alcohol after a 16-year-old working undercover for police was twice sold wine.
When asked for ID, the teen even disclosed to a cashier at Tesco Metro at Market Place, Durham, that she had none when she visited the store in March.
But, Durham Police say, the shop worker simply replied “I’ll pretend I have seen it” and completed the sale anyway.
And, despite claiming to operate the Challenge 25 scheme, a 17-year-old boy, also working as part of a police probe into city centre retailers, was able to buy cigarettes with no questions asked.
Now, Durham County Council’s statutory licensing sub-committee will carry out a full review of the store’s premises licence at the request of Chief Constable Mike Barton.
Tesco says it will work with police and takes the responsibility to sell alcohol seriously.
Police are seeking the review to protect children from harm and for the prevention of crime and disorder in the city centre. The force’s application is also supported by Durham’s Safeguarding Children Board.
Options available to councillors include reducing the hours alcohol can be sold, modifying the conditions of the licence and fully revoking the licence altogether.
Chief Superintendent Ivan Wood, head of the neighbourhood command in Durham, said: “We are working with Tesco following their failure to comply with alcohol purchasing laws.
“The Market Place branch in Durham City has sold alcohol on two occasions to underage customers following a test purchase operation by Durham Constabulary.
“We take robust action against premises that fail these test purchases and have applied for a review of their licence by the council. We are happy that by continuing our work with Tesco this will not happen again in the future.”
Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg said: “Tackling the harm caused to individuals and communities by alcohol is one of the top policing priorities voted for by members of the public during my consultation.
“I hope that this sends out a clear message that licensing laws need to be adhered to in order to minimise underage drinking and protect young people from harm.”
The store is one of three that supermarket chain Tesco has in Durham City and saw 100 jobs created when it opened in August 2009.
Tesco is the second-largest retailer in the world in terms of profits, with its revenues hitting £70bn last year.
Company spokesman Mark Thomas said: “We take our responsibilities in the sales of alcohol extremely seriously and our colleagues rigorously challenge customers purchasing alcohol who appear under 25 years of age. We will continue to work positively with the police.”