By Tony Earnshaw Local Democracy Reporter
PLAIN-CLOTHED police cadets were used in a ‘sting’ operation to test the purchase of alcohol from a petrol station in Heckmondwike – which led to its 24-hour licence being revoked.
The initiative by West Yorkshire Police aims to target problem sites as part of an ongoing crackdown on sales of alcohol, cigarettes, knives and solvents to under-age children.
The three teenagers, aged 13, 14 and 15, played a part in Kirklees Council licensing chiefs’ decision to rescind the alcohol licence at Beechley Filling Station on Wakefield Road.
Proprietor Hamayan Sajjad was sharply criticised by Coun Carole Pattison, chairman of the council’s Licensing Panel, for having shown ‘total disrespect for the law’.
The Bradford-based businessman did not attend the meeting at Huddersfield Town Hall to hear the panel’s decision. PC Katie Jagger, partnerships officer for Kirklees Division, said the three teenagers ‘did not look 18’ when they bought a 700ml bottle of WKD on February 19 and none offered a form of identification. But a 19-year-old member of staff allowed the sale to go ahead.
When police officers interviewed the counter assistant they discovered he was being paid cash-in-hand, was untrained and could not operate the CCTV system.
A week later Trading Standards officers visited the station and bought contraband cigarettes believed to have been smuggled into the UK from the Ukraine. And on March 27, police officers who visited the garage to discuss the review of the premises’ licence discovered more non-duty cigarettes in plain view on the counter with a further carton stashed underneath.
West Yorkshire Police said in the three months preceding the review application, the filling station had been linked to seven instances of crimes or assaults.
They included hate crime, racial abuse, theft, assault, criminal damage, violence and armed robbery.
In revoking the station’s licence, Coun Pattison said it was one of the worst cases ever to be brought before the panel whilst she had been chairman.
“Mr Sajjad has shown total disrespect for the law,” she said.
“He has shown no respect for this panel and these proceedings, his staff, his customers or the welfare of others. I trust that our licensing department and the police will be in touch with Bradford licensing to share relevant information and that Trading Standards will be taking action where they can as well.”
Speaking after the ruling, PC Richard Woodhead, licensing officer for Kirklees Division, said: “West Yorkshire police are really pleased with this outcome.
“We need to send a message to the licensed outlets in Kirklees and the Huddersfield area that under-age sales will not be tolerated, along with the sale of non duty-paid goods.
“We can confirm that test purchasing from Easter and over the summer period is going to be stepped up in both on- and off-licence premises and any sales will lead to licence reviews and the possibility of having licences revoked.”