Traders in North East Lincolnshire are being reminded to stick to the rules when selling age-restricted products following a wave of test purchase operations.
NORTH East Lincolnshire Council’s public protection team carried out test purchases this autumn on shops selling fireworks, petrol, knives and other bladed articles which have age restrictions on them.
Of the 12 shops that were tested, three failed, allowing a sale without checking for proof of age. Failures included: a 15-year-old was sold fuel from a petrol station (age restriction of 16); a 14-year-old bought a knife from a well-known national retail chain (age restriction of 18); and a 15-year-old was sold an axe from a well-known local shop (age restriction of 18).
The operation involved trading standards, licensing and environmental health officers. Traders who fail a test purchase are visited and given guidance on how to avoid selling to young people. This includes advice on operating a ‘Challenge 25’ policy, through which anybody who appears to be under 25 is asked to produce photographic identification to prove their age. Action is taken against any traders who fail a second test within three months.
Neil Clark, the council’s community protection manager, said: “These results are disturbing – there can be no good reason to allow a young person to purchase an axe. Traders should be aware of the age restrictions on products that they sell, and they must take the necessary steps to avoid selling them to someone who may be under age.”
Councillor David Bolton, portfolio holder for community safety and neighbourhoods, said: “Once again these test purchase operations demonstrate that some businesses selling age-restricted products need to be reminded of the rules to prevent young people accessing them. We want traders to be absolutely clear on the law – and they should bear this in mind for seasonal goods, such as fireworks being sold for New Year.”
Anyone with any concerns about traders in their area selling age-restricted products to young people should contact trading standards on (01472) 324770 or email email@example.com. Those wishing to volunteer as a test purchaser are also invited to get in touch.
Businesses can obtain advice on age-restricted products at www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/nelincs.