Shopkeepers use breathalysers on customers trying to buy alcohol and refuse to serve anyone who’s drunk

SHOPKEEPERS have been armed with breathalysers by police for the first time in Britain in a crackdown on street drinking.

Staff were issued with handheld breath-test devices and told to turn away any customers who are too drunk.

The crackdown in Cardiff comes after a rise in complaints from shocked tourists about drunken behaviour on the streets.

Now two Spar stores in the Welsh capital are testing shoppers to make it easier to refuse to serve suspected drunks.

Rohat Hamed, 40, who has been a shop manager for eight years, told how breathalyser has helped curb the problem of street boozing.

She said: "We've used it hundreds of times already – we just grab it and if anybody who tries to buy alcohol looks drunk we tell them to blow into it.

"Some people have given us abuse when we use it because they must think that they're above the law."

The breathalysers were initially lent to shopkeepers for a trial. They were then allowed to buy them from the South Wales force.

Rohat said: "We ended up buying it from the police for £200 because we have got a lot of problems here when people are buying alcohol from elsewhere and congregating around this area.

"We're getting blamed when it's got nothing to do with us.

"We're actually doing the police's job – it's not our job, we never serve anybody in here who's drunk.

"Some people buy cases of alcohol from other shops then sit on the set of benches right outside our shop because it's a good chill out area, but we don't serve them.

"We've banned a lot of them.

"People don't like them sitting there and it does affect the tourists – Cardiff is a booming city at the moment and there are always people visiting."

Chief Superintendent Belinda Davies said: "Such behaviour can prove intimidating, unpleasant and unwelcoming to those visiting or working in the area."

Operation Purple Ash aims to help vulnerable people on the street while taking action against troublemakers.

South Wales Police have revealed that 40 alcoholic drinks have been seized and 18 people have been arrested since the operation began just under two weeks ago.

Roadside breath tests were introduced in Britain 50 years ago last month.

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