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March 13, 2014 - 14:41

Plymouth businesses that sell age-restricted products and services are being give free training on how to prevent youngsters getting hold of items they shouldn't  and businesses getting a fine.  Plymouth City Council's Public Protection Service is offering the training to proprietors of corner shops, sunbed salons, newsagents, supermarkets, off-licences, public houses, amusement arcades and tattoo parlours.It will include practical tips on how to prevent underage sales and to give staff the confidence to challenge young people who look under 25.  Plymouth Community Safety Partnership is funding the training for businesses that sell alcohol, tobacco, DVDs, solvents, lottery tickets, fireworks or knives or who offer services which have age restrictions such as gambling, tattoos or sunbeds.  The interactive online training package, No Proof of Age No Sale aims to help businesses train staff and to have in place clear systems to help prevent underage sales and protect them from possible prosecution. It includes the factors businesses need to comply with the law on age-restricted products including a training DVD, tests, refusals logs and posters.  There is also an "ask the expert" feature for questions businesses may have.  The training normally costs £30+ a year but the council has signed up to a SWERCOTS scheme that allows them to offering it for free within the local authority catchment area, as well as free training for managers on how to use it. The authority can also provide extra coaching at the business for staff for a small charge.  Cllr Brian Vincent, Cabinet member for the Environment, said: "There is so much to lose if you accidentally sell to a minor. You could use your licence and face considerable fines."I'm sure many of us struggle to tell how old someone looks and this guidance is invaluable to help businesses do the right thing."  The council is encouraging businesses to adopt the Challenge 25 model for all age-restricted products.Many businesses use it for successfully alcohol-related products but do not apply the same system when being asked to sell tobacco.  Cllr Chris Penberthy, Cabinet member for Co-operatives and Community Development, said: "This is not just about the businesses. Here in Plymouth we have too many young people who get into drink or smoking, for instance, at an early age and we need to focus on this more impressionable age group. The laws are there to protect them."Email or call 01752 304149. Or book training sessions by visiting  All the sessions will be held in the North Room in Plymouth Guildhall on March 25, April 29, and May 27.