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Policies and Procedures

Alcohol and Tobacco - Seizure from Young People Procedure.

03/08/2016 14:26:11

Governing Policy 
Neighbourhood Policing - Safer Neighbourhoods Policy


This guidance explains how Surrey Police will apply the powers under the Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Act 1997 and the allied duty under S.7, Children and Young Persons Act 1933.
The purpose of exercising the powers contained within this legislation is to reduce the effects of young people drinking alcohol in public places as well as to protect children’s health and well-being from the harmful effects of alcohol and tobacco.

Strong links with increased levels of anti-social behavior affecting the whole community are evident where such drinking happens.

Similar powers exist for Designated Public Place Orders (designated by the Local Authority for this purpose), under S.12 to 16, Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (as amended by S. 199 and Sch.7, Licensing Act 2003) – See Force procedure for DPPOs.

Procedure Statement

Police Powers – Confiscation of Alcohol

S.1(1) Confiscation of Alcohol (Young Persons) Act 1997 provides a power to a police officer (in or out of uniform) or an authorised uniformed Police Community Support Officer ("PCSO") to require a person, in a relevant place, to: 

  • surrender anything which is, or the police officer/PCSO reasonably believes to be, intoxicating liquor or a container for such liquor, that is in their possession: and 
  • state their name and address. 

The requirement can be made: 

  • of a person under 18 years old; 
  • of any person who intends that any of the liquor should be consumed by an under 18 year old in that or any other relevant place; and 
  • of any other person where a person under 18 years of age, is or has recently been, with him/her has recently consumed intoxicating liquor in that or any other relevant place.

The requirement to surrender a sealed container can only be used if the police officer/PCSO reasonably believes the person is, or has been consuming, or intends to consume alcohol in any relevant place.

It should be noted that the requirement does not always have to be made of persons under 18 years of age.

When dealing with a young person, if the circumstances give rise to a particular concern, such as the young person’s state of drunkenness or other reasons that may make them at risk of significant harm, steps must be taken to safeguard their welfare. Where necessary powers to take that young person into police protection (S. 46, Children Act 1989) should be considered.

The contents of all containers, opened or unopened, may be poured away in the presence of the person (if practicable) and the container discarded safely. Otherwise it shall be disposed of in the appropriate manner and place.

The police officer or PCSO in uniform must inform the person they are making the requirement of: 

  • of their suspicion that led to the requirement; and  
  • that failing without reasonable excuse to comply with a requirement is an offence. 

No particular form of words is specified but both elements must be included. Awareness should be exercised that other means of assisting communication may be required.


It is an offence for a person to fail to comply with a requirement to surrender suspected alcohol or container for alcohol, or to provide their name and address.

A Police Officer (not CSO) may arrest without warrant, a person who fails to comply with a requirement to surrender liquor and to give his name and address if the necessity test criteria applies (Sect 24 (2) PACE 1984 (as amended).


“Relevant Place” means any public place, other than licensed premises, or any place, other than a public place, to which the person has unlawfully gained access.

“Possession” includes, on the person or in the immediate vicinity.

The following allied duty should be noted:

Police Duty: - Seizure of Tobacco (under 16 years)

S.7, Children and Young Persons Act 1933 places a duty on police officers and authorised PCSOs in uniform to seize tobacco or cigarette papers in the possession of a person apparently under the age of sixteen found smoking in any street or public place.

Tobacco, products and papers will be destroyed and safely discarded in the presence of the person from whom they were seized, if practicable.
Some exceptions are made to young people delivering tobacco on behalf of an employer (S.7 (4)).

Tobacco is defined as any product containing tobacco, including cigarettes, and tobacco substitute smoking mixtures. Cigarette includes tobacco rolled in paper or any other material (for example, cigars) capable of immediate use for smoking.

Roles and Responsibilities

First line supervisors are responsible for ensuring that police officers and PCSOs comply with this procedure.

The officer seizing alcohol or tobacco from a young person is responsible for ensuring that the parents/guardians of that young person are informed of the seizure. 

Neighbourhood teams will undertake work to reduce underage drinking in identified areas, and steps will be taken to assist individual young people considered as being at risk as a result. Action will be taken to identify the sources of such alcohol and prevent its supply, in conjunction with Trading Standards (if applicable).

If admissions are made or other evidence present which can identify where the alcohol was purchased from, then the local licensing officer should also be notified for follow-up enquiries to be arranged and, where suitable, for prosecutions or license reviews to be undertaken.


Where it is considered a young person has been at risk, a 39/24 Child at Risk form will be submitted. 39/24s do not have to be submitted as a matter of course. The level of risk must be assessed by the police officer or PCSO attending.

No receipt will be issued for any items seized but a brief note of what appears to have been disposed of will be made. Police Officers who have made arrests for offences under this section should, where practicable, retain the containers and present them to the Custody Officer who will make a record of this. There is no need to retain them after this and they will be disposed of in the appropriate manner and place.






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