The on-trades' voluntary code for retailing alcohol responsibly is failing to safeguard the public, according to pressure group Alcohol Concern.
Alcohol Concern's latest report entitled Unequal Partners slams the voluntary codes and guidelines used by the on-trade, claiming they offer no meaningful sanctions if breached.
It said that Home Office test purchasing schemes had proved that an average of 10% to 15% of licensed premises made under-age sales but only 0.5% of licences were reviewed under the Licensing Act 2003.
The report also added that 43% of managed pubs had no internal disciplinary procedures for staff that were found selling alcohol to minors.
Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: "Self-regulation has clearly failed and we desperately need mandatory codes and an industry watchdog to stamp out the poor practice and the complacency that is characteristic of many of these venues."
However Paul Smith, chief executive of trade body Noctis (formerly BEDA), said that a national watchdog for the alcohol industry would come at a time when the on-trade was under more scrutiny than ever before.
"To suggest even more excessive, costly burdens on our industry as well as on a whole range of regulatory stakeholders shows that Alcohol Concern is not actually in touch with the realities or the practicalities of the situation," he added.
By Christopher Walton
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