Posted on: 26 March 2018
Traders selling age-restricted goods in Devon, Somerset and Torbay are urged not to put their livelihoods at risk and use a free online training tool to help them stay on the right side of the law.
As part of a new awareness campaign Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service is urging shops and online traders to use their No Proof of Age No Sale training resource to prevent the sale of goods that have an age restriction.
In February the owners of two off licences were told to pay a total of £5,000 after being found guilty of selling alcohol to under 18s in prosecutions brought by Trading Standards.
The two prosecutions followed a test purchase exercise by the service using volunteers under the age of 18 to purchase alcohol. Since April 2016 42 premises were subjected to an underage test purchase, nine of those failed and sold restricted goods to an underage volunteer.
The owner of any business caught selling age restricted items to an underage person could be fined and receive a criminal record. Both the owner and the person who made the sale can be held responsible – even if the owner wasn’t the one who made the sale.
To avoid the risk of being prosecuted business owners are advised to use Trading Standards recommended ‘Challenge 25’ guidelines when young people attempt to buy any age restricted product.
All employees serving age restricted products should ask themselves “does the person in front of me look under 25?”. If the answer is yes, the customer should be asked to produce proof-of-age identification to prove that they can make that purchase. Further details can be found at http://challenge25.org
And it’s not just alcohol and tobacco. There are a range of age restricted goods that many business owners might not usually think about including for example computer games, knives, pets, tanning services, DVDs and magazines.
For instance, Trading Standards have recently assisted Avon and Somerset Police in cracking down on several stores that sold items including knives, knife blades and axes to underage volunteers.
Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Lead Officer Jay Capel said:
“It is illegal to sell age restricted goods or services to anyone under the lawful age and anyone caught doing so could get a substantial fine, a criminal record and the business could also needlessly be put at risk.
“Most of the time an underage sale is made because staff aren’t properly trained or there isn’t a robust age restricted sales policy in place.”
To protect yourself, your business and employees you should:
• Make age verification checks to confirm the age of customers
• Operate a “challenge 25” policy
• Communicate that policy to customers by means of posters and notices around the store
• Make sure staff are trained and that training is recorded and regularly updated
• Keep and maintain a refusals register to record the date, time and description of potential buyers where sales of age-restricted products have been refused.
• Ensure you know what goods and services are age restricted and what the restrictions are
• Make sure you know what forms of proof-of-age identification are acceptable.
All businesses who sell age restricted products should take advantage of our free online training resource which covers all age restricted products and advises how to prevent the sale of these items. Ask yourself, can you afford not to?