October 15, 2021 12.02 pm

Village shop’s licence under threat after illegal worker served 15-year-olds Hooch

Illegal workers a ‘growing issue’ in Lincolnshire

A village shop could have its license revoked after an illegal worker served two underage test purchasers.

Lincolnshire Police has asked South Holland District Council to carry out a licence review of City Stores, on Bridge Road, Sutton Bridge, after the spot check on August 24, 2021.

A report due before the authority’s licensing committee next Wednesday says two 15-year-old volunteers entered the shop at 6.30pm and successfully purchased a bottle of pink Hooch despite being asked for ID and telling the worker they had left it at home.

A subsequent police and Trading Standards investigation found the worker was Sri Lankan and that his visa expired in 2014, meaning he had overstayed and was in the country illegally. He was arrested and transported to custody for immigration.

Further interviews revealed he had been working at the shop since November 2020 and lived in the premises. He said he was paid a percentage of the shop’s takings and was a relation of premises licence holder and designated premises supervisor, Arumugam Sarankan.

Mr Sarankan took over the shop in December 2020 but the premises licence was previously reviewed in 2011 after another illegal worker sold alcohol to children in similar circumstances.

Police found no written authorisation to the shop’s workers for alcohol sales from Mr Sarankan.

South Holland District Council. | Photo: Daniel Jaines for The Lincolnite

They also said there was no incident and refusals log, no age verification policy and no staff training and the store was not operating challenge 25, as well as CCTV not conforming to the force’s specification, and the supervisor sending the majority of his time elsewhere.

The rules state that in the absence of a supervisor, and with no personal licence holder present, the store should not to trade unless at least two trained members of staff are working.

In their report, Lincolnshire Police said the employment of illegal workers in licenced premises had “become an ever more present issue” over recent years and legislation had changed to reflect this.

“Illegal workers are more than likely poorly paid for the hours they are required to work and are not subject to the benefit of a minimum wage or restricted hours as prescribed in law,” said the report.

“Nor are they afforded the benefit of the protections offered by UK employment legislation and are therefore often exploited.”

“Lincolnshire Police request that the Licensing Sub-committee seriously consider a revocation of the premises licence due to… active criminality and serious failings.”

Mr Sarankan has provided evidence to the council in support of his licence but it has been restricted from public viewing.

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