Retailers that own the 129 licensed shops in Dundee are set to face an unprecedented challenge.

The city’s councillors and police are introducing two measures to help tackle alcohol harm, a problem that costs Dundee £71m a year. 

Police are urging retailers to pass on information about anyone who purchases large quantities of alcohol if it causes them concern.

This sounds at first like a reasonable proposal, and who better than local retailers to be able to identify potential problem customers? My concern though,
is what about groups of aggressive customers who get caught for drink-driven antisocial behaviour and know that a certain shop was part of it? 

Is this initiative, no matter how well-meaning, actually going to end up putting retailers at risk? 

The tragic case of London shopkeeper Vijay Patel, who was killed earlier this month after he refused sale of age-restricted products, reminds us that retailers are already in the firing line of this type of crime. We do not need to make this situation worse.  

Meanwhile, councillors have signed off on plans to make any new business that wants to sell alcohol have to prove that they won’t harm public health by doing so, or their application will be rejected. 

A spokesperson from the Scottish Grocers Federation is quoted in the Dundee Evening Telegraph saying: “Dundee risks setting a policy which sends a message to retailers that the city is closed for business.”

Most retailers care about their communities and they care about retailing responsibly. These measures are yet more examples of heavy-handed legislation that is driven by a need to be seen to be doing something.