Proxy sales concerns highlighted at Windsor and Maidenhead panel

Shay Bottomley

Concerns over online proxy sales of age-restricted products were highlighted at a Windsor and Maidenhead council licensing sub-committee on Wednesday (July 28).

At the meeting, Toby Morrison of The Drinks Creator Ltd. was seeking a licence to store alcohol for online-only sales in a 3x3 metre room at the Windsor and Eton Brewery.

The sub-committee was required after a resident raised objections to the application.

Cllr John Baldwin (Lib Dem, Belmont) said that the protection of children from harm was a duty which the council took ‘very seriously’ and asked how Mr Morrison would prevent proxy sales of alcohol.

A proxy sale is where an adult purchases an age-restricted product, such as alcohol or tobacco, for someone under the age of 18.

In response, Mr Morrison said it was ‘much harder’ to prevent than a physical store where an underage person could hand money to an adult outside a shop.

“With the delivery company meant to be checking, obviously if a kid answers the door, that should immediately be a pretty big red flag,” he added.

“At the end of the day, it’s similar to if an adult goes to a supermarket and buys a bottle of wine and chooses to give it to their children.

“If a person proves they are 18, and there’s no evidence to otherwise to say they are purchasing this for someone underaged, then it’s very difficult for me to refuse that.”

Trading Standards also made representations, requesting a Challenge 25 policy to be implemented with staff, in this instance Mr Morrison, to be fully trained on policy who said that he had taken extra precautions beyond existing requirements to prevent sales to underaged customers where possible.

“On my website, I have an in-built tech solution called AgeChecked, which integrates with lots of websites,” he said.

“When a customer orders online, an age check happens in the background, which syncs lots of databases together and goes ‘yes, this person is going to be who they say they are’.

“Obviously, there’s no visual check, but if they do fail, I either do not sell them the product, or I will get in touch and ask for a form of ID.

“If they continue to fail, then obviously I have to keep record of that.”

The application for the licence was approved by the sub-committee.

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