CHILDREN and young people under 18 cannot legally buy alcohol anywhere in the UK.
But can a young person drink alcohol at all or even enter a pub? Here is all you need to know.
What is the legal drinking age in the UK?
The legal drinking age in the UK is 18.
The government website states that anyone under 18 caught drinking alcohol in public can be stopped, fined, or arrested by the police.
Drinkaware says if you are under 18 it is illegal
- For someone to sell you alcohol
- To buy or try to buy alcohol
- For an adult to buy or try to buy alcohol for you
- To drink alcohol in licensed premises, like a pub or restaurant (although there are some exceptions for 16 and 17-year-olds)
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The NHS says: “Drinking alcohol can damage a child's health, even if they're 15 or older.
“Beginning to drink before age 14 is associated with increased health risks, including alcohol-related injuries, involvement in violence, and suicidal thoughts and attempts.
“If children do drink alcohol, they shouldn't do so until they're at least 15 years old.”
What age can children drink alcohol at home?
It is legal for children to drink alcohol at home with their legal guardians present.
In England, Scotland and Wales it is legal for children between the ages of five and 17 to drink alcohol at home or on other private premises.
It is illegal for any child under the age of five to drink alcohol, in public or private places.
The NHS says the minimum age for alcohol consumption is 15, but there are still risks:
- It can affect the normal development of vital organs and functions, including the brain, liver, bones, and hormones.
- Beginning to drink before the age of 14 is associated with increased health risks, including alcohol-related injuries, involvement in violence, and suicidal thoughts and attempts.
- Drinking at an early age is also associated with risky behaviours, such as violence, having more sexual partners, pregnancy, using drugs, employment problems, and drunk driving.
The NHS does have advice for parents who may have children who drink alcohol:
- If children do drink alcohol, they should not do so until they're at least 15 years old.
- If 15 to 17-year-olds drink alcohol, it should be rarely, and never more than once a week. They should always be supervised by a parent or carer.
- If 15 to 17-year-olds drink alcohol, they should never exceed the recommended adult weekly limit (14 units of alcohol). 1 unit of alcohol is about half a pint of beer (4% ABV) or a single measure (25ml) of spirits. A small glass of wine equals 1.5 units of alcohol. Read more about alcohol units.
- If your child intends to drink alcohol, using positive practices such as incentives, setting limits, agreeing on specific boundaries and offering advice can help.
Are under 18s allowed in pubs after 9 pm?
Young people under 18 are allowed in a licensed venue that does not have age-restricted entertainment and as long as an adult supervises them. They cannot buy or drink alcohol.
Although, it is legal for someone over 18 to buy beer, wine, or cider for a 16 or 17-year-old if they're having a meal together in a licensed place, such as a pub.
However, it is an offence for any person to allow an unaccompanied child under 16 to be in a pub between midnight and 5 am.
Some pubs may be subject to licensing conditions that stop children from entering at all.
Pubs that do allow kids during the day may operate their own policies on children.
For example, a pub may require accompanied children to leave by 6 pm (or later, depending on their own policy).
This is at the landlord’s discretion and many pubs impose a 9 pm cut-off time.
Local authorities can also impose restrictions on the presence of children on particular premises.
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