No more excuses for underage sales

Following the recent conviction of two Highland businesses and fines imposed totalling £800, a senior Highland Councillor and the Council’s Chief Trading Standards Officer are urging all businesses throughout Highland to ensure that they have measures in place to prevent any age restricted products being sold to young people and children.

The two retailers involved, one based in Easter-Ross and the other in Lochaber, were convicted for breaches of the Fireworks (Safety) Regulations 1997 during the run up to November 5th last year. They were both found guilty of selling fireworks to 15 year-olds. The legal minimum age for the sale of all fireworks, except items like party poppers and toy caps, is 18.

Councillor David Munro, The Highland Council’s spokesman on Consumer Protection and Public Health issues, said: "There is simply no excuse for such behaviour by businesses as the law is very clear on what products are not permitted to be sold to whom and there has been significant efforts, both nationally and locally into providing guidance for them.  The means are available to allow shop keepers to ask for and obtain proof of a young person’s age and if they have any doubts, the simple solution for them is not to sell.”

Councillor Munro added: “What is now also excellent news is that these recent cases have demonstrated that Trading Standards has the ability to detect where the law is being flaunted and that the Courts will treat such breaches of the law seriously.

“I have absolutely no sympathy for those who have been caught and hope that it will deter others from putting profit before the community’s well being.”

Head of Trading Standards, Nigel MacKenzie warned that his staff and their team of young volunteers would continue to be active in monitoring all those businesses who sell the wide range of age restricted products for sale, including fireworks, cigarettes, DVD’s and computer games with age restricted content, spray paints, and lighter refills.

He advised that there are a number of excellent schemes currently in use that any shopkeeper can use in order to obtain proof of age. Anyone who sells any of the significant number of age restricted products on the market and who doesn't use one of these schemes is simply asking for trouble.

Should any business want further advice on what restrictions apply, how they can safeguard themselves against making the sort of mistakes that were shown up in these cases, or simply who to contact about the proof of age schemes, they should contact the Trading Standards Unit by writing or visiting them at 38 Harbour Road, Inverness; phoning them on 01463 228700, or by e-mail to trading.standards@highland.gov.uk

24 May 2006
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