By Claire West

Supermarket giant Sainsbury's is giving its support to partnerships between local retailers tackling under-age sales of alcohol, set up through the Retail of Alcohol Standards Group (RASG).

Sainsbury's Head of Legal Services, Nick Grant, announced that members of the RASG would fund a new company to carry out the work of Community Alcohol Partnerships (CAPs) nationwide. The board of the company will be independently chaired, with retailer members plus senior police, trading standards and public health representatives.

Speaking at a session on Big Society at the 2011 Year Ahead Conference (organised by the Trading Standards Institute, LBRO, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Officers and Local Government Regulation), Mr Grant said:

"Community engagement is central to our approach to corporate social responsibility. Sainsbury's believes that releasing the energy of volunteering can make a positive difference to the communities we serve.

"We see our supermarkets as community hubs offering a range of resources and support to local projects. At the same time our colleagues are at the frontline of the fight against under age sales and that means working in partnership with other retailers and regulators. CAPs are a great example of this collaborative approach."

Sainsbury's has offered to take the lead in setting up new CAPs in areas where they have a store. The move has been welcomed by regulatory experts LBRO. Chairman Clive Grace said: "This is Big Society in action, with retailers taking the lead in what is one of the most pressing issues affecting the welfare and quality of life in many communities.

"Joint working between business and regulators is vital if we are to move to a new culture of prosperity and protection through positive relationships."

The Retail Of Alcohol Standards Group promotes a joint approach which has led to shared best practice including Think 25. There are currently 35 CAPs nationwide.

Nick Grant said he believed that both the new relationships created through Primary Authorities and a focus on the impact of locally based activity through CAPs would make a real difference to business and regulators.

"We can each learn from each other in successful partnerships based on respect and trust and release creativity and enthusiasm through shared voluntary activity," he said.