On Friday 16 December 2011 Police, Community and Public Health and the Westport District Licensing Agency conducted a Controlled Purchase Operation (CPO) in the Westport area.
The operation involved two 16 year-old volunteers going into licensed premises and attempting to purchase alcohol.
Out of the seven licensed premises visited, six sold alcohol.
Bar staff failed to ask the volunteers their age or for proof of identification, which is in direct contrast with industry best practice standards.
These volunteers were the same ones used in a recent CPO in Greymouth where no sales were made.
A decision will now be made as to the penalties. These can include temporary closures to premises, suspension of Manager Certificates and prosecutions via the Liquor Licensing Authority and the District Court. No warnings will be issued in relation to this operation.
The sale of alcohol to under 18s is one of the most serious breaches of the Sale of Liquor Act as the alcohol related harm that can result can often have tragic consequences.
Other issues were also noted during the operation including patrons being overly intoxicated and food not being available as per the standard licence conditions. Food is required to be available at all times licensed premises are open for the sale/supply of alcohol.
Sergeant Judd said, "There has been a lot of work put into educating premises of their responsibilities in regards to the Sale of Liquor Act and such a result is truly disappointing.
"Controlled purchase operations are one of the various methods used to check that licensed premises are adhering to the Sale of Liquor Act and we intend to continue to run them in both the on and off licenses throughout the West Coast. I can only hope that the type of result we had on Friday is never repeated."
The three main agencies involved with ensuring Licensees comply, being Police, the District Licensing Agency and Community and Public Health would like to remind all persons associated with the sale and supply of liquor of their obligations under the Act, and ensure they operate within the conditions of their licenses.