Rogue traders who sell alcopops to children will be targeted in a Christmas sting.

The undercover operation by West Sussex County Council's Trading Standards team and Sussex Police will crack down on retailers illegally selling alcohol.

Similar operations in West Sussex over recent months have revealed an increase in the number of under-18s being sold alcohol.

The campaign is targeting supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops.

Lionel Barnard, West Sussex County Council cabinet member for public protection, said: "In West Sussex, under-age volunteers, under the supervision of Trading Standards officers, will try to buy alcohol as part of a national drive to sting 5,500 rogue licensees in the run-up to Christmas.

"Selling alcohol to under-18s is not only irresponsible, it is a criminal offence. Those caught breaking the law must take responsibility for their actions and face the consequences."

Extra funding from the Home Office will allow more test purchases to be made using under-age volunteers.

Sussex Police will issue fixed penalty notices of £80 for bar and shop staff who make the sale.

Licensees and staff can face fines up to £5,000 on conviction. Licences can also be suspended, altered or revoked.

If you suspect an outlet of under-age selling, call the Trading Standards Service on 01243 642125.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005