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    Inside Out Extra: Monday March 21, 2005

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According to this card, Sam Smith's 12-year-old son is 18

Underage binge drinking in the UK is an escalating and well documented problem, but the rise in fake identity cards sold legally on the internet, is only helping fuel the dilemma.

Inside Out meets binge drinkers as young as 14 who are using fake ID cards to buy alcohol.

"Most people our age drink and you drink to fit in and then it becomes a habit and the normal thing to do," says one 14-year-old.

A park in Exeter and at first glance, all appears normal. A group of 13 and 14-year olds are in high spirits, larking about.

But as high spirits begin to spiral out of control, a closer inspection reveals many of the children are not sipping fizzy drinks, but alcohol, and in some cases hard spirits such as vodka.

During the course of the evening, two of the children - a 13-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl, drink themselves to the point of collapse and are taken to hospital by ambulance.

Children as young as 13 are drinking strong spirits

It's a shocking scene and one that presenter Sam Smith, whose son is only a year younger than some of these kids, finds extremely distressing.

"I was really shocked and upset by the state these children got themselves into," she says.

"I couldn't believe how they got hold of alcohol in the first place. I soon realised that these fake ID cards were one of the reasons it is so simple."

Faking it

Several children in the group admit to having fake ID cards purchased over the internet.

One 14-year-old girl claims she uses it every day to buy alcohol and cigarettes.

"I was really shocked and upset by the state these children got themselves into."
Inside Out presenter, Sam Smith

The cards are both convincing and readily available to web savvy teens.

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To discover just how easy it is to obtain ID cards, Sam asks her 12-year-old son George, to apply online.

It takes George less than two minutes to fill in the application form online, selecting a fake date of birth to increase his age from 12 to 18.

He then sends a passport photo, £10 and the card arrives two days later - no questions asked.

The website boasts that one of its fake cards is more successful than the "Prove It" card - the official ID card of the alcohol industry.

Inside Out puts this disturbing claim to the test.

Susannah puts the fake ID cards to the test

Put to the test

Susannah Owen is a young-looking 18-year-old who, armed with a fake ID card purchased over the internet, attempts to buy alcohol in eight different shops.

Three out of the eight stores challenge her to prove her age - but they all accept the fake card as genuine.

Plymouth Co-Op supermarket store manager Zoe Hammett, explains that the member of staff correctly asked for proof of age from Susannah, but was fooled by the fake ID which she produced.

"Your investigation is a real eye-opener," says Co-Op Corporate Relations Officer, Paula Meagor.

"These cards are worryingly convincing and we are now retraining our staff in how to spot them."

The Facts

The average amount of alcohol drunk by 11-15-year-olds in 1990 was 0.8 units per week. This rose to 1.6 units in 1998.

In 2002, 18% of 11-15-year-olds drank at least once a week.

Fifty six percent of 15-16-years-olds admit to having drunk more than five units on a single occasion.

Statistics show that by the age of 13, young people who drink outnumber those who don't drink.

Studies suggest that young people combine alcohol and sex and that there is a link between drinking before sexual activity and unsafe sex.

Opioids War In Say Doctors Pain On They Targeted 're The Unfairly War They Targeted Pain Opioids In On Unfairly Say Doctors 're The Sixteen percent of school attendees, who had committed crime, stated they had been under the influence of drink when committing the crime.

Source: Alcohol Concern

Loophole in the law

The manufactures of these cards may be offering underage teenagers the opportunity to buy alcohol and are a cause of great concern to retailers, but they are not in fact, breaking the law.

Whilst it is illegal to use a fake ID card fraudulently, incredibly, it is not illegal to make and sell them.

Inside Out tracks down the operators of one website selling ID cards, Sumo Monkey Ltd, based in Macclesfield.

The website manager Ryan Stanley tells Inside Out that illegal use of what he terms, "novelty cards", can happen, but that the firm is not going to stop selling them.

The government insist that the introduction of the proposed national ID cards would provide a secure system for retailers to verify age.

Until the production and selling of fake IDs is made illegal however, a bottle of alcohol and the consequences of a night of underage binge drinking is sadly only a couple of mouse clicks away.

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See also ...

On the rest of Inside Out
Teenage drinking
Saltdean scoundrels
Binge drinking
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On bbc.co.uk
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On the rest of the web
Alcohol Concern
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Department of Health - Alcohol misuse

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Readers' Comments

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Doctors Targeted Say Unfairly 're War Pain They The Opioids On In We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Dave, Manchester
Why do kids do it? The teen creed is to rebel. My parents let us drink, smoke, go out etc, but pointed out the pluses and minuses of each, and it held no interest for me. Mind you, I had enough confidence to flirt with girls without a plastic bottle of cider. Seriously, the habit then continues in the mating game. There isn't actually that much violence and vandalism, you just settle down with the wrong person.

Tim Meo
It appeared to me that the groups of teenagers depicted in the program were from a less economically affluent area of Exeter. In my opinion, this is the root of the problem; lack of respect and self-discipline through the often under funded state education system.

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im a teenager and i got a fake id and i dont see a problem with teens drinking we should be aloud to drink anyway but maybe not so much on the streets like. i havnt got a problem with it and its not you getting drunk its us so i think you should leave us all do what we want. its our lives.

Alex Age :17
I my self am an underage drinker. I started when I was 13 as a social drinker at friends parties and houses. at that point i was hitting the hard stuff but one time i drank my self stupid and had a very bad experience with vodka and I cant stand the smell of it, even though this is 3 years on and i am 17. At the moment me and my close friends prefer going to bars and clubs and having a few drinks. maybe a few JD & Cokes / Beers for me, my mates all stick to beer and the females in our group usually have a glass or two of white wine. i know some people who drink themselfs silly. I know of a few people my age who still go drinking out and about with a bottle of lambrini or some cheap immitation thinking theyre really cool when theyre just acting immature. i think one of the main reasons why underage drinking is a big issue is that its labeled as a "taboo" pretty much like cannabis i dont think that should be legalised as people will move on to more hardcore substances. in my opinion its chavs that are the main scurge of underage drinking and violence about a month ago i was waiting for a club to open and a few of the people ive met before in the club got chased by a drunk female chav trying to hit them with a bottle of wine all the time it was open and spilling down her arm, makes sense. I my self dress in fashionable clothes and listen to dance or alternative music but i dont walk around in big groups intimidating people that i dont like the look of unlike chavs who congregate outside the local 7 - 11. I think if the drinking age was lowered to 16 like tobbaco and isnt frowned upon and made a taboo subject that people wouldnt think that it is "cool" to drink alcohol. and bouncers shouldnt be there to refuse entry to people who look slightly underage they should be there to eject people who get out of hand or refuse entry to people who dont seem to be in the correct dress code like the other week i went to a club and the bouncers seemed fair to some guys infront of me they were about 20 wearing chav/fashionable clothes like smart casual, shirt shoes and some smart casual pants the bouncer basically said the way your dressed i dont think this is your kind of place try the club just up the road. fair enough if bouncers were there to do that. but i dont think they should refuse entry to someone like myself who is 17 and looks about that age and is about as harmful as a blunt spoon. I see majority of these comments are from parents, my parents know i go to establishments drinking they dont mind aslong as i dont drink myself stupid. A valid point, I know where i stand with them basically i dont go anywhere unsafe i go with a few mates and i either go home for 12 or ring them around 11:30 explaining the plan if im either staying at a mates or going to a club and getting a taxi back. If you let your children know where they stand they should respect that and drink carefully. Sorry about my life story in the comments section but this is how i feel about the issue

if the government provided activities for 14 to 17 years olds to do, then they wouldn't have to resort to drinking. in fact under 18 clubs are worse than over 18 clubs, as more fights break out and kids experiment sexually

Dan Bevan
After watching your brilliant piece on the Fake ID's available on the market, I took a breath of fresh air, I printed of over 100 from the net a while ago and was shocked just how many are available, and with the law allowing this to go on, its proving to be a very diffulcult situation. Its about time someone, did something, and you have shown the problem under a spot light. I work for sussex police and have been working really hard to tackle problems caused by underage drinking etc in my area. I have produced laminated signs of Acceptable ID's eg:citizen card, Prove it, Driving licence, Passport etc, which have been given to all off licenses and shops, which sell age restricted goods, also we patrol the 'Hot' Spots, which is normally bus shelters, train station platforms, carparks, and parks etc etc. And regulary seize alcohol and cigerettes, and have recently seized fake Id from youths caught buying it..uk

Pamela Wiltshire
Pain Doctors War Targeted Unfairly 're Opioids They Say The In On
What shocked me, apart from the underage drinking, was the fact that there appeared to be no Police around. Surely the Police in Exeter must be aware of the problem - how can you have so many children in one place drinking so much.

If an under age person wants to get alcohol, they will get it! The biggest challenge we have lies with adults/family/friends who are serving these young people. We all know when someone is under age. It's easy to tell. Shopkeepers are money driven and they will sell to under age persons just to make the money! We all know that!

Henk P Harton
The law should swiftly be changed by banning the selling of these fake IDs and the "company" be put to trial. Since and only since the first of January 2005 every citizen in the Netherlands is obliged to carry an ID, passport or driver's licence to identify him/herself when asked. A € 50.00 penalty if not; Belgium has had this system for dozens of years, so Whitehall hurry up!!! Go on with your perfect programs, we enjoy them every time. Joop and Henk Harton.

I am from Exeter and i know some of theose kids!I thought th woman on the show was playing up a small problem because i have never seen drinking like that down on the quay and it is near where I live. Why cant youngsters in this country drink like in france? If they can do it early on then the novalty wears off after a while and they drink more responsably.

They Pain In Opioids Doctors War The 're Targeted Say Unfairly On Chris
I drank when i was 14 (i am now 17) and my friends and i had no problems, maybe because we drunk more sensibly. Maybe if spirits were sold only to those with passport or drivers license identification then the young ones getting hold of alcohol can only buy alcopops and beer and therefore will drink more slowly and won't over drink as much, reducing the prroblem. Let them have there fun but safety comes first, plus the reduce of the use of the services.

Emily Denyer
Well i was watching the programme on the telly and you are right i have seen kids while me and my friend are on the way to school and there is a boy no older than 13 and he always walks to a local corner shop goes in and comes out with TOBACCO!Me and my friend are surprised that he isnt dead in fact we see quite a few teenagesmokers!!!

Gerard Maguire
I have just watched your clip on fake ID's and would like you to ask the Devon & Cornwall police force where were they???? This is a known area for under age drinking which I may add fuels the binge drinking culture we all hear about.. I want to know what are the police doing to address this issue as I see my Police contribution to my concil tax has risen!! I have never seen a police officer in that area. If they stamp out / try control underage drinking now, they will reduce the issues of binge drinking in the future.

Helen Somerton
My 13 year old daughter likes the internet but was totally unaware of such things such as fake Id's and the websites mentioned. She knows all about it now!!! That information should not have been aired so early in the evening and the BBC should be more responiable. Another issue I as a parent have to worry about!

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