Shop accused of selling alcohol to schoolgirls who turned up drunk to lessons
PUBLISHED: 10:13 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:51 19 March 2019
A newsagent faces losing its licence after "numerous" schoolgirls bought vodka while in uniform and downed it before their morning classes, police have said.
Staff at TSB News in Vallance Road, Bethnal Green, are accused of repeatedly selling alcohol to schoolgirls from Mulberry Academy Shoreditch and Oaklands Secondary School.
The shop first came under suspicion in November 2017 when a student arrived at the school intoxicated.
Another girl was found to be drunk in her morning class at nearby Oaklands Secondary School on the same day and ambulances were called for both pupils, police said.
Teachers said they smelt vodka on the girls’ breathe and called PC Simon Lambert – the safer schools officer.
He said: “[There are] numerous occasions when female students attended in a state of either partial or extreme intoxication. The shop is known to students as a venue where you can buy alcohol regardless of your age.
“There have been other occasions when other female students have arrived at school either drunk or under the influence of alcohol.
“I have seen more incidents logged at Mulberry Academy Shoreditch where female students have arrived drunk. Other students have refused to say [where they bought the alcohol], but staff and myself believe it was the same location.”
In March 2018 another girl from Mulberry arrived drunk, according to council documents. She also claimed she bought vodka from TSB News in the morning while wearing her school uniform.
PC Lambert said he was told “if you go there with the right money they will sell you anything, regardless if you are in uniform or not.”
Mulberry Academy, previously called Bethnal Green Academy, was attended by Shamima Begum and three other classmates who travelled to Syria to join Islamic State in 2015.
Following the press attention it changed its name to Green Spring Academy Shoreditch. After an exam malpractice scandal in 2017 it changed its name again and became Mulberry Academy last September.
It was rated as an “outstanding” school at its last Ofsted inspection.
Dr Vanessa Ogden, CEO of Mulberry Schools Trust, said: “The academy ensures that all its young people are thoroughly safeguarded and therefore deals robustly with those who supply vulnerable youngsters illegally with alcohol, reporting such matters to the police immediately.”
In December police sent two undercover children, aged 13 and 15, into TSB News and they were able to buy a can of lager and bottle of WKD unchallenged, according to officers.
PC Mark Perry, from the Met Police’s licensing team, said: “There can be no excuse for selling alcohol to a child in school uniform, it demonstrates a total disregard for the safety and wellbeing of children. What is truly concerning is that, based on the evidence, we believe the shop may have been selling alcohol to children for years. How many young lives have been adversely affected by the management of the shop allowing alcohol to be sold to children?”
Councillors will discuss the shop’s licence at a meeting this week.
A spokesman for TSB News said: “We will be at the review and someone is looking at the legal issues. It wouldn’t be right to comment further.”