Confusion over the law surrounding who can sell alcohol in shops could leave independent retailers open to prosecution, a police licensing officer has warned.

Northamptonshire Police licensing officer PC David Bryan made the comment following the discovery that a convenience store owner in his area had been under the false impression that under-18s could sell alcohol to customers without the sale being authorised by a person over the age of 18.

However, although section 153 of the Licensing Act 2003 allows children to sell alcohol to customers, every sale has to be authorised at the time by an adult over the age of 18 who is deemed a responsible person.

“In my experience not all independent shops know the law”

He said: “Supermarkets are more aware of the regulations, especially because many of them now have have self-service tills, but in my experience not all independent shops know the law. I’ve even come across pubs where alcohol sales are carried out by minors and not being authorised at the time by over-18s.”

PC Bryan added that in Northamptonshire, one licensed shop owner had been caught allowing his underage son to sell alcohol while he was on his own in the shop. The owner received a fine following a prosecution.