Teenage police cadets carried out undercover test purchases to see if shops would sell alcohol or cigarettes to under-age young people.

Kirklees Police conducted the checks at shops in Marsh, Paddock, Milnsbridge, Batley, Heckmondwike and Cleckheaton with volunteer police cadets.

The teenagers gave up two evenings on October 26 and 27 and while the majority of shops did perform ID checks and refused sale, the teenagers were still able to buy alcohol at three shops, cigarettes from two, and also nitrous oxide capsules from one business.

Follow up police enquiries will now be conducted at shops which failed the test purchases.

The operation followed strict national guidance, and if the cadets were asked their age or for identification, they were to tell the truth and give their real age.

The Volunteer Police Cadet scheme itself is a nationally recognised uniformed youth group for the 13-18 age group which aims to:
•    encourage the spirit of adventure and good citizenship;
•    promote a practical understanding of policing;
•    inspire young people to make a positive contribution to their local community through volunteering projects.

The cadets follow a two-year programme which is linked to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

PC Kathryn Jagger, of the Kirklees Police licensing department, said: “It was pleasing to find that across the Kirklees district a majority of the shops visited complied with the law and carried out the correct checks to ensure that age restricted products do not fall into the wrong hands.

“We will, of course, be carrying out further enquiries at premises which sold items such as alcohol, cigarettes and nitrous oxide cylinders to young people.

“The cadets were extremely professional and I thank them for giving their time to assist us. We will be looking to repeat this operation in the near future and encourage businesses to remain vigilant and make sure they are not selling items such as alcohol to juveniles.”

Sgt Stuart Clarke, Kirklees district volunteer police cadet leader, said: “This was a great opportunity for the cadets to make a difference to their communities. Preventing age restricted products falling into young people’s hands protects not only them but also can help reduce anti-social behaviour in our neighbourhoods.

“These young people give up their own time to help make their communities safer and perform some really valuable services in neighbourhoods.”

Concerns about premises selling age restricted products to young people can be reported either via the West Yorkshire Police Live Chat www.westyorkshire.police.uk/101LiveChat or to West Yorkshire Trading Standards via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.