A ROUTINE shopping trip for a family in Carlisle that took an unexpected turn at Tesco has ignited discussions around age verification policies.

Ms Bolton visited the Tesco Superstore in Carlisle on March 11, with her 28-year-old son Billy, and two of her other children, aged 13 and 14. 

Included in the shop was a bottle of vodka. 

Upon ID verification, which was shown for both the 28-year-old and 53-year-old, the sale of alcohol was refused.

In response to inquiries, Tesco declined to provide a direct comment on the incident - but referenced their 'Think 25' policy.

Whilst many News & Star readers were quick to criticise the decision taken at the time on social media, Rebecca Wallace spoke of the challenging nature of enforcing such policies.

"When your company's policy is instant dismissal should you fail a test purchase, people that maybe wouldn't expect to be ID'd will be getting ID'd because it simply isn't worth the cashier losing their job," she wrote.

Amy Bradberry also said: "If the staff member has suspicions the alcohol is being purchased for a minor this is in fact a reasonable request."

The Retail of Alcohol Standards Group seeks to shed light on the rationale and effectiveness of Challenge 25.

Within their frequently asked questions (FAQ), one is 'I am clearly over 25, why was I challenged?' 

It states: "On very rare occasions, some people that are considerably older than 25 are challenged. This can be because of a number of reasons, such as a licensing condition or staff taking an overly cautious approach to challenges.

"Once a challenge has been made the decision will be backed up by management to ensure that shop staff are not undermined and continue to have confidence challenging people." 

Another FAQ states: "I was with someone that was buying alcohol, why was I challenged?

"Retailers are required to be vigilant not just for direct underage sales, but additionally they are working to ensure that sales are not made to young people by “proxy”.

"Retailers therefore train staff to make challenges if they believe there is a change that this is a proxy purchase.

"How retailers approach this varies and a range of factors are taken into account when deciding to make the challenge.

"This will include information like relationship between the person buying alcohol and the person with them, the time of day, the products being purchased and any other information that has been picked up, for example if there has been underage drinking problem in the area."