Test purchase volunteers sought

The Highland Council’s Trading Standards are seeking young people to help them to check that businesses are not selling age-restricted products to those under the minimum age.

Leaflets produced in association with NHS Highland are being sent out to all Highland Council secondary schools, encouraging young people aged between 15½ and 16½ years old to volunteer to visits shops in the Highlands and carry out test purchases of age-restricted products such as cigarettes, solvents, fireworks, DVD movies and games.

Gordon Robb, Trading Standards Manager, said: “The laws that are in place to restrict the supply of products to young people are there to protect their health, safety and wellbeing and to prevent the kind of anti-social behavior that can be associated with the their supply. My officers will continue to advise businesses about their legal commitments and most businesses are happy to comply, but evidence of non-compliance from previous work done by us in Highland and from the experiences of other local authorities make it a necessary part of our job to carry out enforcement work in this area. In order to fulfil this job we are always looking for volunteers to help us with test purchasing exercises which take place regularly throughout the year.”

Volunteers receive a certificate of participation to add to their records of achievements. Mr Robb explained: “Volunteering as a test purchaser demonstrates a service to the community and participation can be used as evidence of key skills for job applications or further education entrance forms and we will happily provide references for young people who assist us.”

Mr Robb said that responsible retailers need not worry: “We are not trying to catch retailers out, we simply want to ensure they are following good practices and procedures to comply with age restricted sales laws.  The volunteer is never asked to lie to the retailer about their age and we follow a strict protocol to ensure the welfare of the young person at all times”.

If you, or someone you know, are aged between 15½ and 16½ and would like to take part in future exercises or wish to find out more, contact Trading Standards by telephoning 01463 228700 or email trading.standards@highland.gov.uk.  Any young person interested in taking part will need to seek the permission from a parent or carer.

28 May 2012