Liquor stings entrapment: Premier

A proposal to use underage police cadets for stings on liquor outlets has been rejected by Colin Barnett as "entrapment", even though similar powers are available to target irresponsible cigarette vendors.

Police say they need to crack down on alcohol sales to juveniles after a recent licensing enforcement division operation found more than seven out of 10 outlets sold teenage cadets alcohol without checking their age.

They want the power to use minors for tests on takeaway alcohol retailers but the Premier said yesterday the Government would not allow it.

"What the Government will not accept is entrapment, using people under 18 to go into venues," Mr Barnett said. "I've made it very clear to the Commissioner and, in fact, it would be illegal."

McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth director Mike Daube backed police and said Mr Barnett's comments were unfortunate.

He said Mr Barnett had pre-empted the outcome of the Liquor Control Act review and the Health Department had power to use juveniles in similar stings on cigarette vendors under the Tobacco Products Control Act.

"It is hard to understand why it's OK for tobacco, but not for alcohol, when binge drinking is cause for so much concern," Professor Daube said.

Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said legislation was a matter for the Government but without the ability to make test purchases, police had to do intensive surveillance work to try to catch irresponsible outlets.

He said a team of officers might need to wait outside one premises for several hours for something to happen, while other venues went unchecked. In the same time, a police cadet could do test purchases at several stores.

Police spend 60 per cent of their time dealing with alcohol-related problems.

Enforcement, education and cultural change were some ways of dealing with youths' determined drunkenness, Mr O'Callaghan said. "If we want to stop young people getting access to liquor, we are going to have to enforce the law stronger," he said.

Liquor industry groups have said takeaway alcohol retailers had to be vigilant in checking proof of age but the 2011 Australian School Student Alcohol and Drug Survey report found only a small percentage of WA children aged 12 to 17 acquired alcohol directly from liquor outlets and most was supplied by relatives or friends.