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Police cadets used in alcohol, vapes and tobacco ‘sting’

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Thirteen to 18-year-old volunteer police cadets were used by trading standards to catch numerous shops selling alcohol, vapes and tobacco to underage users.

Cambridgeshire County Council says its trading standards officers used the cadets throughout July and August to catch offending shop keepers.

Almost a quarter of shops visited allowed the youngsters to make a purchase.

“Several premises across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have had action taken against them for selling products to youngsters who are underage,” said a county council spokesperson.

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“Dozens of visits were conducted in July and August due to complaints/intelligence received by Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Trading Standards, with almost a quarter allowing members of the Cambridgeshire Police Cadets to purchase an age restricted product (alcohol, cigarettes and vapes).

“Action against those premises will now be taken in line with Trading Standards’ enforcement policy which can range from a written warning, a caution if they admit the offence or prosecution.”

The spokesperson said as well as the police, Trading Standards was supported by licensing colleagues from Fenland District Council, Cambridge City Council, Huntingdonshire District Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council and Peterborough City Council, with premises visited in all these areas.

Peter Gell, assistant director for regulatory services at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We take the sale of age restricted products incredibly seriously due to the associated health risks.

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“As these visits show, we will not hesitate to take action if we receive intelligence on premises breaking the law and we would urge anyone with concerns to report them to Citizens Advice so we can investigate.”

Val Thomas, deputy director of public health at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “Restrictions on the sale of these products to young people are important as many adults who smoke, and misuse alcohol start in their teenage years.

“For example, around 90% of adult smokers started before the age of 19 years.

“It is important to support and prevent young people from adopting these behaviours that have a high risk of them developing poor health as they grow older.

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“We work with young people to alert them to the risks, but it is also important that these products are not easily available to them.”

Paul Hawkins, licensing officer at Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said: “These operations are carried out regularly to ensure premises are adhering to the law around the sale of age-restricted items, however, this recent activity was prompted by some concerns reported about alcohol, cigarette and vape sales to young people.

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“Having participated in these recent operations I would like to thank our cadets who did a brilliant job.

“We are pleased to say that most premises passed the test and refused our cadets the sale of age restricted products.

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“However, there is still work to do and we would encourage anyone with concerns to report these to Citizens Advice.”

For further guidance on age restricted sales, visit https://www.businesscompanion.info/ and search ‘age restricted’.

To report a trader selling age restricted products to someone who is underage, contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or visit https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer.

FACT FILE: Cambridgeshire Constabulary runs a Volunteer Police Cadet scheme which aims to strengthen the voice of younger people in policing we well as steering those at risk of criminality away from a life of crime.

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The scheme encourages a spirit of adventure and good citizenship and can count towards formal qualifications and evidencing voluntary work for the Princes Trust/Duke of Edinburgh Award schemes.

If you are aged 13-18 and interested in policing, then this could be for you!

Cambridgeshire Constabulary are looking for leaders and assistant leaders to support the operation of the Volunteer Police Cadets unit and assist with the planning and delivery of the VPC programme.

These are fun and rewarding roles allowing you to support young people to enjoy the events and activities, growing in confidence and ability over time. No specific qualifications or experience is necessary as full training and support will be given. Experience of working with young people may be useful but is not essential.

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If you can give up a couple of hours each week and want to do something productive and exciting in your free time – this could be exactly what you’re looking for!

If you’d like to join Cambridgeshire’s VPC, please email cadets@cambs.pnn.police.uk.

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