AN OFF-licence has been caught selling alcohol to underage children months after it assured people it was a responsible retailer.
More than 500 people signed a petition against a Bargain Booze shop opening in Field End Road, Eastcote, in March, because of fears drunken bad behaviour would increase.
The co-managing director of the company, Matthew Hughes, wrote to the Gazette to reassure readers it had 'a very strong reputation for the responsible retailing of alcohol'.
However, during a test purchasing operation undertaken by Hillingdon's Police Cadets last night (Thur) the shop was caught selling alcohol to a 15-year-old boy.
Mr Hughes said: "We have a system and procedure in palce to prevent this exact thing happening.
"During the test purchase yesterday the retailer had no reason to believe this person was under 21, he said he looked 23.
"This is an isolated incident which is a genuine mistake and it is regrettable."
Victoria Food & Wine in Victoria Road, Ruislip Manor, and an off licence in Station Approach, South Ruislip, were also caught out.
Doug Dewey, the police cadets' coordinator, said: " For the last three weeks we have been involved in test purchasing knives, fireworks, and alcohol as part of an operation called Sparkle.
"The cadets have been working with the Safer Neighbourhoods Teams and Hillingdon Council's Trading Standards.
"We went out in the Ruislip area last night for the last time and three shops out of about 10 were caught selling alcohol to underage children.
"We have done almost 70 test purchases over the last three weeks, and we have tried to cover as much of the borough as possible.
"We have had about 10 shops selling alcohol to underage children, five shops selling knives and two or three selling fireworks.
"We have been involved with this for a while now. There is a lot of bad press about young people doing wrong things and I think it's nice to get some of the good ones getting involved with sorting out the problems that other young people create.
"We want to show people that not all young people are bad.
"We will be doing more test purchases in December during the run up to Christmas."
The shops who were caught received a fixed penalty notice of £80.