A third of Aldershot town centre pubs that faced test purchases organised by the council and police failed by selling booze to 16-year-olds.

In the run-up to Christmas, Rushmoor Borough Council has joined forces with Hampshire Constabulary to check up on pubs and off-licences to ensure underage youngsters are not being sold alcohol.

Test purchases were carried out at nine pubs in the town centre during the evening of Saturday December 3, with three failing by selling alcohol to 16-year-old boys or girls. None of the teenagers was asked for ID on the sales.

Three off-licences were also tested but refused to sell alcohol to the 16-year-olds.

The council’s licensing team and the police are now working closely with staff at the pubs that made the illegal underage alcohol sales and say, for this reason, they will not name them.

The work includes offering training for the staff members involved and making amendments to their licence conditions where appropriate. This could mean putting additional precautions in place to make sure alcohol is not sold to minors, including keeping and monitoring a log of refusals and operating a ‘Challenge 25’ policy.

The test purchases were part of routine checks carried out as Christmas approaches when pubs and off-licences are usually busier.

Separately, Hampshire Trading Standards also carries out test checks.

Councillor Ken Muschamp, the borough council’s deputy leader and Cabinet member for business, safety and regulation, said: “At this stage we are working closely with the premises that failed the test to ensure there is no repeat, so we will not be naming them.

“However, I want to make it clear that the police and Rushmoor Borough Council will be monitoring these premises regularly and we will not hesitate to take further action if they do not make improvements.

“It’s important that we, along with the police and Trading Standards, ensure young people are protected so they can have a safe and happy Christmas.”

Similar tests were carried out at 24 off- licences in Aldershot town centre in mid-November, when four failed. Those off-licences have not been named.

Last month, following a check of off-licences, Inspector Justin Roberts, of Hampshire Constabulary’s licensing team, said: “It is extremely disappointing when any store fails a test purchase operation. The law is clear and it is there to protect children from the potential dangers of alcohol.

“We will continue to work with our partners and will be running similar operations in the future to make sure stores have robust age identification policies and that they stick to them.”

Insp Roberts added: “It was pleasing that a high majority of venues passed. We will be speaking with the owners of the shops that failed and making recommendations about things like staff training to make sure they don’t fail again.

“If you have any concerns about antisocial behaviour or are aware of any licensed premises that are selling alcohol to people under the age of 18, please contact your safer neighbourhood team on 101.”