A rural police force has taken the unusual step of using volunteer actors to pretend they are drunk in order to test whether local pubs and clubs will sell them alcohol.
Bedfordshire police said they have taken the measures to raise awareness about the negative effects of selling alcohol to people who have already drunk too much and to help tackle alcohol-related violence and harm.
The force said it took the measure earlier this month, testing locations in Dunstable, including pubs, clubs, and newsagents. They noted that all the sites tested made sales to the actors, who were displaying signs of excessive drunkenness.
The police said that more than once the actors were given advice on drinks to buy to get “the most drunk”, were encouraged to buy shots, and were sold double measures.
The licensing sergeant Liam Mitchell said: “This operation has highlighted just how lax the sale of alcohol can be treated, and has been a good learning experience for the venues and staff involved.
“Not only is it an offence to knowingly sell alcohol to a person who is drunk, but excessive drunkenness fuels night-time economy-related violence and places people at risk. The message is simple to venues: if someone’s clearly had too much, then refuse the sale, offer them water, and check that they are safe.”
Mitchell said that this was the first time Bedfordshire police had worked with actors in this way, although Merseyside police have done something similar.
Advice has now been given to all of the locations. Councillor Ian Dalgarno, an executive member for community services at Central Bedfordshire council (CBC), added: “CBC is committed to making our town centres welcoming, safe and vibrant places to go out.”