TEN per cent of pubs, clubs and off-licences in Oxford have failed a covert under-age sales operation.

Licensed premises across the county have been visited by 14 and 15-year-old police volunteers attempting to buy alcohol as part of a campaign to highlight the dangers of under-age drinking.

Each licensed premises was visited up to five times - if alcohol was sold to an under-aged volunteer on at least three occasions the premises faced prosecution.

One bar and two off-licences failed on two occasions.

Oxford had a 10.5 per cent failure rate compared to 15 per cent in West Oxfordshire, 34.8 per cent in North Cherwell, 10.5 per cent in Vale of White Horse and 5.9 per cent in South Oxfordshire.

None of the licensed premises in South Cherwell failed the spot-checks. Overall there was a 14 per cent failure rate in Oxfordshire.

The Chief Superintendent for Oxfordshire, Shaun Morley, said: "I am disappointed with the licensed premises that failed, especially those from large chains.

"But I have been encouraged by how few premises failed. We also had particular areas where the results were excellent and others where there is a definite concern.

"Now we have highlighted those areas, licensing authorities can react in a targeted way and work with licensees to address their issues.

"We aim to continue to work with trading standards to help eradicate the problem of underage drinking.

"It can lead to anti-social behaviour, vandalism and graffiti. Groups of youths gathering and drinking can be intimidating and unpleasant for other members of the community.

"There is also an issue with the health of the children who are drinking under age and the possibility of a criminal record.

"I would like to remind people that it is also a crime for adults to buy alcohol for those underage."

There were no businesses that failed three times, but those premises that failed on two occasions were the One Stop in Banbury Cross, Banbury, Simply Drinks and Que Pasa on Banbury High Street, Banbury and Co-op Stores in High Street, Eynsham.

Oli Wright, police licensing officer for Oxfordshire, said: "As punishment, the person who served our under-age volunteer was given an £80 fixed penalty notice.

"The management was also spoken to and given a warning about their staff training; and we have taken the step of naming them publicly, in line with Home Office regulations."

Nigel Strick, Head of Community Safety and Trading Standards for Oxfordshire County Council, said: "Preventing the illegal sale of alcohol to under 18s is a priority for Trading Standards and we will continue to work with Thames Valley Police in test purchasing operations.

"We try to target our efforts at the premises causing the most problems and people in Oxfordshire can help us to do this. If you know where alcohol is being sold to under 18s, contact us on 0845 051 0845 and we will find the best way to tackle the problem with Thames Valley Police."

The underage spot-checks is part of a campaign to target underage drinking, anti-social behaviour, binge drinking, violent crime and the impact on health and the NHS from alcohol.

Those premises that passed without any failures were:

Oxford: James Street Tavern, Bar Aroma and Mango in Cowley.

Witney: Star News in Bridge Street.

Eynsham: The Star in Witney Road.

Long Hanborough: The Three Horseshoes in Main Road.

Wantage: Rowse Newsmarket in Wallingford Street.

Abingdon: Threshers in Peachcroft Shopping Centre and Drayton Post Office in The Green.

Bicester: Tesco in Shakespeare Drive, Gee's Wine Bar in Market Square and The Penny Black in Sheep Street.

Kidlington: The Red Lion in Oxford Road and The Black Bull in Banbury Road.

Didcot: Broadways in Broadway.

Wallingford: The Dolphin in St Mary's Street, The Green Arms in St Leonard's Square and The Town Arms in High Street.