TWO Winchester businesses were found to have sold alcohol to a child during a recent police operation.

Hampshire Constabulary carried out the test purchasing on 16 firms on November 30, with two 15-year-old volunteers trying to buy alcohol from licensed premises including stalls at the Christmas market.

Staff at two venues, the 6 o’Clock Gin stall at the market on the cathedral Inner Close, and Iceland in Middle Brook Street, failed the test.

The members of staff were issued with £90 fixed penalty notices and officers from Hampshire Constabulary’s licensing team will follow this up with market organisers and licence holders to ensure appropriate training and policies are in place.

Michael Kain, managing director at 6 o’Clock Gin, told the Chronicle yesterday: “We take age verification very seriously. We have a ‘Challenge 25’ policy.

“It’s very embarrassing for us, we train all our staff.”

A spokesman for Iceland added: “At Iceland we take our responsibility regarding the sale of alcohol very seriously. Our staff are trained on both their legal and company requirements upon their induction with the company and this training is refreshed regularly at six monthly intervals. The company also conducts its own internal test purchase programme.

“It was extremely disappointing to hear that our Winchester store had failed the test purchase, we have however used this as an opportunity to further review the existing training provision for store colleagues and refresh all those colleagues currently working in our Winchester store.

“The Iceland colleague involved in making the sale has been disciplined in line with company policy.”

Colin Pollard, licensing officer, said: “This test purchasing operation was undertaken at the start of a busy Christmas period that brings many tourists to the city centre.

“We’re pleased then that the majority of premises passed the spot checks with flying colours. The high pass rate is a credit to those individual premises, their staff and training practices.

“We carry out these checks to make sure venues have the right training and processes in place.

“Operations like this one reduce the risk of young people being involved in anti-social behaviour, or becoming a victim of crime, or being taken to hospital for medical treatment.

“Test purchasing will continue into next year and those that failed will be targeted in future operations.”