New measures on alcohol

Offences to combat underage drinking in public come into force.

It will be an offence to give or make alcohol available to a child or young person for consumption in a public place from today (Monday 15 May).

The provision is part of the alcohol licensing section of the Air Weapons and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015 and is in place to help Police Scotland better tackle outdoor drinking dens.

Other measures in force today include:

  • A ‘fit and proper person test’ will now form part of the alcohol licensing regime
  • Licensing boards will be required to produce an annual income and expenditure report on their alcohol licensing activities to increase their accountability and transparency.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:

“While many young people will not undertake underage drinking, we know that groups of young people drinking outside can be an intimidating sight to members of the public and are often linked with a number of public order offences.

“Furthermore, underage drinking can cause short and long term harm to health, as well as put young people in dangerous situations when drunk. So it is entirely correct that Police Scotland are able to deal effectively with those who supply alcohol to children and young people.

 “I am very pleased that these key measures from the 2015 Act are coming into force today, alongside additional checks in the licensing process and ensuring greater accountability within the responsible licensing boards.

“The Scottish Government has already put a number of measures in place designed to reduce alcohol-related harm, including lowering the drink drive limit and legislating to end multi-buy discounts and the irresponsible promotion of alcohol products.

“Today’s measures will strengthen the range of interventions available to further reduce the harm caused by alcohol and help the police to take action against those who distribute it irresponsibly.”


It is already against the law to buy alcohol for a child. This new offence closes a loophole to ensure that supplying alcohol to a child in public is also covered.


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