YOUNGSTERS in Hitchin have claimed that they are regularly refused entry to several stores in the town centre, and have called for the policy to be scrapped.

Members of the Voice of Hitchin Youth and Hitchin Boys’ School pupils have claimed that stores including Boots and Wilkinsons discriminate against them, and won’t let them enter their premises either at lunchtime or during the day.

The issues, which were raised at a recent Hitchin area committee meeting, have also been brought up at community surgeries recently, and meetings have been held to try and resolve the problems.

There had also been problems with the Sainsbury’s and Waitrose stores not allowing pupils in with school bags, but this has since been resolved.

Year 9 Hitchin Boys’ School pupil, Peter Saville, said: “I think it’s a basic case of discrimination. People are not banned from entering a shop if they’re different in other ways, and the same principal should remain with age.

“There are no statistics that suggest young people are any more likely to cause problems than others.

“Hopefully we are on our way to getting it sorted, as we spoke to the Waitrose manager and have managed to get the ban lifted there and at Sainsbury’s.”

Another Hitchin Boys’ School pupil, who wished not to be named, said: “I’ve been refused entry into Wilkinsons on two or three occasions now.

“It’s after school that this has happened, but Year 11’s are allowed out at lunchtime and I think they have problems too.”

Margaret Bracey, North Herts District Council community development officer, said that problem was being resolved.

She said: “The issues were brought before Shop Watch at a meeting, and noted. It was discussed, and it emerged it’s because of concerns of shoplifting.”

A spokesman from Boots said: “Boots UK places its customers at the heart of everything we do and we aim to provide all our customers with the best shopping experience while shopping with us.”

At the time of going to press Wilkinsons had got back to The Comet with a response.