Scots drinkers short changed by pub measures

Mr Jolly said optics gave more exact measures (Picture by Tim Parkinson)

HALF of all pub measures in Scotland could be short, according to new research.

Investigations by trading standards officers at a Scots council revealed than one in two spirits served were a short measure.

But officials warned that the figures represent a national trend and are calling for a change in standards and training across the country.

Perth and Kinross council said that using optics – where the bottle is fixed upright behind the bar – tended to produce an exact measure.

But using hand measures – which may be correct and licensed for use in the pub – rely on the pourer to get the measure right.

They said that in a busy pub staff were more likely to rush and make mistakes in the measure.

Chris Jolly, a Trading Standards officer for the council, said that the margin of error resulted customers missing out on a small amount of alcohol but called for the retirement of the “thimble” measures from Scots pubs.


He said: “Unfortunately the latest findings for Perth and Kinross match those across the rest of Scotland.

“We visited numerous premises during the course of the year and recorded a failure rate of 45%, which is that the measures given were found to be deficient beyone error limits.

“In layman’s terms that means that roughly one in every two drinks served to customers is a short measure.”

However he said that landlords were not deliberately cheating patrons and that there was a “systematic problem with the types of measures used”.

He added: “If premises were actively ripping people off then we would expect to see fewer failures, but those that did fail doing so at a much higher level.

“The greatest errors within the 45% of failures were just a couple of millimetres.

“The fundamental issues are ones of training and technique and the differences between thimble and optical measures.

“We would be very happy if bars used optics for everything rather than a mix of optics and traditional thimble measures.”

Trading Standards officers are required to carry out checks on pubs, hotels and other licensed premises on a regular basis.

The Weights and Measures Act of 1963 made it illegal in Britain for businesses to give short measures and short measures can result in prosecution.


  1. … recorded a failure rate of 45%,….In layman’s terms that means that roughly one in every two drinks served to customers is a short measure….

    haha…does he think we are idiots?…I thought councils were short of money…these guys should be out doing a real job not spending their days in pubs buying whiskys…. jeesuz!

    What have they actually done about it?…nothing…usual council waste of tax dollars

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