Age verification technology in alcohol sales - Home Office Key Learning

03 Jan

As we have previously reported the Home Office has worked with the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) to create a Regulatory ‘Sandbox’ to allow the trial of several age verification technologies.

The aim was to assess and test innovative approaches to age verification, such as digital ID and other products with age assurance attributes, in the specific context of the sale of alcohol under the Licensing Act 2003.

Nine trials ran during 2022, testing age estimation technology and digital ID apps in a variety of retail environments. The age verification mandatory condition remained in place throughout.

The trial has now been completed and the Home Office has released details of the key learnings from the exercise.

Key learning from the trial included:

  • Uptake of age estimation technology at self-scan checkouts suggests that there is an appetite for digital age assessment.
  • The majority of trials of digital ID apps experienced very low take up.
  • The trials did not assess the accuracy of the technology but did demonstrate that it is sensitive to a number of environmental factors that could impact reliability, for example, positioning of equipment relative to bright light. Licence holders will need to consider carefully if age verification technologies can work in their premises to realise the benefits consistently.
  • Several trials aimed to explore if technology could reduce queuing time to enter licensed premises. Findings were inconclusive and suggest that the speed of entry to venues will be dependent on practical factors such as good phone battery and Wi-Fi signal.

The government will now carefully consider the next steps and has indicated they will provide further updates as soon as possible.

The participants in the trials were:

  • 1account
  • Asda
  • Co-op
  • Fujitsu
  • Innovation Technology
  • MBJ Technology
  • Morrisons
  • Sthaler/FinGo
  • Tesco
Law correct at the date of publication.
Back to Latest News