A CITY centre Tesco store could lose its alcohol licence after staff twice sold booze to a 16-year-old involved in a police sting operation.

Durham Police have asked Durham County Council to review the premises licence of the Tesco Metro in Durham Market Place, after the teenage volunteer was twice sold bottles of wine without being asked for proof of age.

The so-called test purchase visits were part of Operation Cub, a joint initiative by the police and the council.

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On Saturday, March 8, the teenager bought a bottle of Blossom Hill and a week later they bought a bottle of Macon Chardonnay.

The 16-year-old was accompanied by a plain clothed police officer on both occasions and both incidents were recorded using hidden cameras.

Chief Constable Mike Barton said: “As police officers, we see the damaging effects of people drinking alcohol on a daily basis.

“We also see the dangerous effect it has on young people and reducing this impact is a key priority in Durham.

“We need to ensure that young people are not able to purchase alcohol and that licensed premises do all they can to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors – those that do need to understand that it won’t be tolerated.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg said he hoped Operation Cub would send out a clear message that licensing laws need to be adhered to.

The operation was welcomed by Colin Shevills, director of Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, who said: “Supermarkets need to start taking more responsibility.”

In response, Mark Thomas, Tesco’s corporate affairs manager, said: “As a responsible retailer we take the sale of alcohol extremely seriously.

“All our colleagues are given extensive training on the issue and our policy is to ask for proof of age from anyone who looks under 25.

“Regrettably, at our Durham Market Place Metro store mistakes were made when selling alcohol on two occasions.

“Our colleagues are being re-trained as a matter of urgency to ensure that this does not happen again and we will of course co-operate with the review.”