Concern over children buying vapes and alcohol through online apps

The issue was raised by Police Scotland at a meeting of Perth and Kinross Licensing Board on Wednesday.

Concern over children buying vapes and alcohol through online apps in Perth and Kinross STV News

Concerns have been raised about underagers using online grocery apps to buy vapes and alcohol in Perth and Kinross.

It is illegal for a retailer to sell vaping products and/or alcohol to anyone under the age of 18.

The issue was raised by Police Scotland at a meeting of Perth and Kinross Licensing Board on Wednesday, August 16.

Among the items on the agenda was an application for a provisional premises licence for a new Premier store at 83-85 High Street, Kinross. The board was told of plans for home deliveries to be made to customers using the Snappy Shopper app.

With Snappy Shopper the delivery drivers are employed directly by the stores.

Snappy Shopper says it has robust checks and “diligent age verification” systems adding it takes the issue of underaged sales very seriously.

At this month’s licensing board meeting, Police Scotland raised concerns over “current trends” which showed online apps can be used by children to buy vapes and other age-restricted products.

Police Scotland was satisfied with the application being approved subject to the condition delivery drivers must carry a copy of their personal licence or their training record.

This was agreed by the board and the application was unanimously approved.

Following the meeting Police Scotland confirmed it was working to ensure licensing legislation was met through online sales.

Licensing officer, Sergeant James Gordon said: “We are aware of people who use the internet to sell alcohol and vape products. We will work with our partners to carry out enquiries to ensure that legislative standards are complied with.”

Perth and Kinross licensing board convener Peter Barrett said: “In the course of discussions on one of the items at the licensing board meeting on August 16, 2023, Police Scotland made representations about online delivery services and current trends which indicate the potential they could be misused by underage individuals to purchase age-restricted products.

“The board approved the application subject to a local condition on deliveries of alcohol which reflected both its own policy on deliveries and the points raised by the police.”

Perth and Kinross Council (PKC) told the Local Democracy Reporting Service its Trading Standards officers carry out periodic checks on local premises and sometimes – where appropriate – with the help of volunteer underage youngsters testing retailers.

A PKC spokesperson said: “Our Trading Standards team – in the same way as other teams around Scotland – periodically carries out checks on premises which offer age-restricted products for sale, such as vapes, and will respond to any intelligence we receive suggesting underage sales may be taking place. Where appropriate, these checks may involve test purchasing using young volunteers and the council can issue fixed penalty notices where we identify a failure to comply with national legislation.”

A spokesperson for Snappy Shopper told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the company had “robust” measures in place.

The spokesman said: “Snappy Shopper serves as a platform that enables local retailers to offer e-commerce solutions to their communities. While the drivers involved in the delivery process are directly employed by the respective stores, I’d like to assure you that our platform has implemented robust measures to ensure diligent age verification by the drivers.

“Regarding the specific concern of underage sales, we take this issue seriously and have established comprehensive mechanisms to address it. Our system meticulously tracks all transactions involving age-restricted products conducted through our app. This includes recording the entire chain of the transaction, the form of identification presented, and the date of birth verified by the driver.

“With each driver working with a specific store, it provides a clear process for handling the return of and refusal of age-restricted products. This ensures that such items are managed efficiently and within regulatory guidelines.

“I would also like to mention that we have engaged with various licensing boards across Scotland to present our platform and operational procedures. These interactions have been positively received, with the boards expressing confidence in our processes.”

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