Age-Restricted. Products Guidance

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1 Age-Restricted Products Guidance

2 2 Contents 3 Warning Notices 6 How can I prevent underage sales? 7 Challenge 21 8 Training 9 Till Prompts 10 Proof of Age 11 Refusal Logs 12 CCTV 13 What could go wrong? 14 Proxy Purchasing 15

3 3 What are age-restricted products? Because of the harm they can cause, the supply of a wide range of products to underage people is illegal. These are called age-restricted products and the term underage sales is commonly used to describe their illegal supply to young people. This pack gives guidance on the law relating to the following age-restricted products: Cigarettes and other tobacco products Fireworks Alcohol Knives and other items with blades Glues and solvents Butane cigarette lighter refills Spray paint Videos, DVDs and computer games National Lottery draw tickets and Scratchcards Who should read this guidance pack? Anyone who sells the above products. Who commits a criminal offence? Employers and individual employees may both be prosecuted if an age-restricted product is sold to an underage person. Are underage sales really such a problem? Yes. Apart from the legal consequences for the retailer, underage sales can have a real effect on the health of the country s children and the well-being of the wider community. Bear in mind the following statistics: Around 20% of year old children surveyed at six schools in Leicetershire smoke. Around 80% of regular adult smokers began as older children or teenagers and those who start young are three times more likely to die of a smoking related disease. The number of young people going to Leicestershire hospitals with alcohol-related injuries has doubled in the last five years Almost a quarter of year olds get drunk at least three times a month Volatile solvent abuse (often called glue sniffing) kills more children and young people aged between 10 and16 than all illegal drugs put together. In the six years between 2000 and 2005, 6,637 people were hurt by fireworks and required hospital treatment. Around half of all injuries happen to children under the age of 16.

4 4 PRODUCT MINIMUM AGE PENALTY TOBACCO 18 This is not just cigarettes but also loose tobacco, chewing tobacco, rolling papers and any substitute for tobacco. 2,500 Also, if you sell single cigarettes, even to an adult, you can be fined up to 1,000. FIREWORKS 18 Fireworks must not be sold separately if they are meant to be sold in a pack. 5,000 You can also get up to 6 months in prison. PARTY POPPERS 16 These include caps, cracker snaps, novelty matches, party poppers, serpents and throw downs. 5,000 You can also get up to 6 months in prison. ALCOHOL 18 Anyone buying or trying to buy alcohol for someone under 18 also commits an offence. 5,000 You can also have your licence taken away. KNIVES 18 This includes any axe or any other item which has a blade or is sharply pointed and could cause an injury. 5,000 You can also get up to 6 months in prison.

5 5 PRODUCT MINIMUM AGE PENALTY GLUES AND SOLVENTS BUTANE LIGHTER REFILS 18 These include glues, aerosols, cleaning fluids, paint stripper, nail polish remover and antifreeze. These CANNOT be sold if you think the person is going to abuse them in any way. 18 5,000 You can also get up to 6 months in prison. 5,000 You can also get up to 6 months in prison. SPRAY PAINTS 16 2,500 DVD & COMPUTER GAMES 12, 15, 18 A work classified as Restricted 18 can only be sold to someone over 18 through a licensed sex shop. 5,000 You can also get up to 6 months in prison. NATIONAL LOTTERY DRAW TICKETS AND SCRATCHCARDS 16 It is also against the law for someone under 16 to sell National Lottery draw tickets and Scratchcards. 5,000 Camelot can also impose sanctions under its Retailer Agreement, which may include removal of your terminal.

6 6 Warning Notices Certain products also have to have warning notices displayed in the shop: If you sell cigarettes, you must display a notice like this where the cigarettes are sold: (Notice to be at least 297mm x 420mm with lettering at least 36mm high) IT IS ILLEGAL TO SELL TOBACCO PRODUCTS TO ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 Also any vending machine must have a notice like this: (Notice to be at least 60mm x 100mm with lettering at least 6mm high) THIS MACHINE IS ONLY FOR THE USE OF PEOPLE AGED 18 OR OVER If you sell fireworks, a notice must be prominently displayed like this: Also, sparklers must be labelled Warning not to be given to children under 5 years of age. IT IS ILLEGAL TO SELL ADULT FIREWORKS AND SPARKLERS TO ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18, and IT IS ILLEGAL FOR ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 TO POSSESS ADULT FIREWORKS IN A PUBLIC PLACE

7 7 How can I prevent underage sales? The following steps may help you and your employees avoid making underage sales. Challenge 21 Operate the Challenge 21 policy in your shop It can be difficult to guess how old a person is. Some young people look a lot older than they are. If you guess, you are likely to get it wrong and sell to an underage child. It is also unreasonable to expect an employee to guess the age of a customer. The following exercise shows just how difficult it can be. Can you guess the age of the following people? It could cost you 5,000 if you get it wrong (Answers are on the back cover)

8 8 Challenge 21 Challenge 21 is a policy which helps to deal with the difficulty of assessing a customer s age. Put simply, if a customer appears to be under 21 they must prove they are over the legal age for that product; for example, 18 for alcohol. Asking for identification at an age limit that is higher than the legal age for sale of the product, means that you are much less likely to make an illegal sale to someone who looks older than they are. Using the Challenge 21 approach also makes it easier to ask for identification without causing a customer to become angry. Teenagers are at a point in their lives when they are changing from children to adults. To be told that they still look like a child may make them angry. It is much easier to say you don t look over 21 than to say You don t look 18. Challenge 21 works best if customers know about it. Posters should be displayed around the shop and till point, so that the sales assistant can make reference to them whilst asking the customer for proof of age. Don t ask a customer their age or if they are old enough, as it is likely that most children in this situation would lie. If you then ask for ID, the customer may think that you don t believe them and take offence. If you or your staff have sufficient doubt as to the age of a customer to want to ask their age, it is clear that there is a chance that they are too young. In such cases you should only ask for and accept ID. REMEMBER: If in doubt,. refuse the sale!

9 9 Training The most important part in making sure that underage sales do not happen is to make sure that you and your employees are trained properly. Training should be given before sales assistants make any sales to the public. You should also train anyone who helps in the shop, whether paid or unpaid and this includes family members. Training should cover the following points: Know the age limits for the products you sell. What could happen if they sell a product illegally. Practical training on what ID is acceptable, how to check ID and how to refuse a sale. How to deal with difficult customers. Recording refused sales of age-restricted products in a refusal log. Making sure your employees understand how difficult it is to accurately judge young people s ages; and instruct them to use the Challenge 21 policy and ask for proof of age. Training should be ongoing and updated on a regular basis. You should check that an employee understands the training and monitor them to make sure they are following your instruction. Some staff may lack confidence in asking for proof of age. You should satisfy yourself that those employees have the skills needed to refuse sales. Trading Standards have included in this pack a questionnaire on underage sales that you can ask your employees to fill in. If an employee cannot complete the questionnaire properly then they need more advice and guidance. Keep records of training and instructions given to all employees. Make sure they sign and date training records to say that they have understood the training. This will allow you to keep a check on who has received training and prove, if it has been provided, that an illegal sale is made. A training record is supplied in this pack for you to use. REMEMBER: If in doubt,. refuse the sale!

10 10 Till Prompts At the point of sale reminders can be used to remind you and your staff that a product is age-restricted. In a shop selling lots of different things, it is easy to go on auto pilot simply scanning items without actually considering what they are. If an EPOS (electronic point of sale) system is used, a prompt system can be incorporated so that, when an agerestricted product is scanned the till will alert an operator and make them consider both the product and the customer s age. It is important that the prompt happens as soon as the item is scanned and not at the end, when a lot of shopping might be packed away in a bag, as the customer might get annoyed. To be effective some positive action should be required before a sale can be made. For example, the operator being asked whether the customer looks over 21 and having to press a yes or no button to continue. Till prompts will have limited value where the majority of sales are age-restricted products. If it is not possible to have a till prompt, posters or stickers showing age limits, displayed around the till point, will act as a useful reminder. It may be advisable to individually label some products, such as a butane cigarette lighter refill. REMEMBER: If in doubt,. refuse the sale!

11 11 Proof of Age If Challenge 21 and till prompts are used properly, they will lead to requests for proof of age. The only acceptable forms of proof of age are: PASS-accredited proof of age cards such as Validate UK, Portman Group, Connexions or Citizenship Card which feature the PASS hologram. Photo driving licence Passport Birth certificates are not an acceptable method of proving a person s age as they carry no photo and can be passed between friends; neither are Student Union (NUS) cards. Be careful with driving licences as they can be issued when a person is 17 years old. Remember, not everyone has a passport or driving licence and many people are reluctant to carry them in case they are lost or stolen. Don t alienate genuine customers or place your staff under pressure by refusing to accept PASS accredited proof of age cards. They are an acceptable form of proof of age supported by the Government, Leicestershire Constabulary and Leicestershire Trading Standards Service. Beware of Fakes Below is an example of a genuine card please ensure your employees are familiar with it: Fake proof of age and identity cards are freely available through novelty shops and the Internet. Before accepting any ID, you and your staff should check: Does the photo look like the person presenting it? The date of birth If a proof of age card, it should feature the PASS hologram There should be no sign of alterations being made Warn your employees about this and be sure that they understand that they cannot rely on other types of proof of age. Include it in the training record that you get them to sign. You can also show people that have been refused where to get a PASS-accredited card by having a stock of application forms for young people to take away and complete. Application forms for the ValidateUK card can also be obtained from all libraries, some police stations, and they can be downloaded from the Internet at There is no excuse for someone needing to prove their age to say that they can t.

12 12 Age-restricted products refusal log Refusals Log It is vital that you monitor that staff are following the training and instruction that you give. It is also important that your business is properly prepared to deal with those times when underage children are more likely to try and buy age-restricted products. Instructing your staff to make a record of every time they refuse to sell an agerestricted product and keeping a record of sales refused by you, is important for the following reasons: It shows that you and your employees regularly check a person s age and refuse to sell to underage people. It shows that your employees are following the training they have been given and may identify whether further training is needed for those employees who are not refusing sales. It may highlight the times when most underage customers attempt to purchase age-restricted products so additional precautions can be taken. For example, making sure that you are present to support staff or not leaving an inexperienced member of staff to serve alone at those times. It will help employees identify if someone is attempting to buy age-restricted goods on a regular basis. You should review refusals records regularly, sign and date the record to show that it is being monitored and record any action taken as a result of those reviews. A record of refused sales booklet accompanies this advice pack and may be used by your business. REMEMBER: If in doubt,. refuse the sale!

13 13 CCTV As well as helping to prevent and detect crime, CCTV can be a useful tool in combating underage sales. For example, obvious cameras may act as a deterrent to a customer becoming overly aggressive. Footage of difficult customers can be retained, shown to other staff and passed to the Police if necessary. Footage of suspect proxy purchasers (see below) could also be shared with police. You could also periodically review footage to observe staff and how they are selling age-restricted products. Check footage from a Friday night, or a period where you know children attempt to buy age-restricted products, to see whether your staff ask for ID. You can also check footage against entries in the refusals record to see if they are accurate. Remember, if you are carrying out these checks, you will want to be able to prove that you have done so. Make a record of checks made to CCTV records as well as any action taken. REMEMBER: If in doubt,. refuse the sale!

14 14 What could go wrong? When people are interviewed under caution following an underage sale there are common excuses: The shop was very busy I (or the sales assistant) was distracted by someone who is a known shoplifter The child looked about the same age as my 18-year old It was a new employee I trained the employee but they let me down The last one is the only one that might be acceptable: Even so Trading Standards will want to see proof of the person has been trained and proof that you are checking on things (like reviewing the refusals log). You may also need to show that the assistant knew about Challenge 21 and was not left to figure out the age on his or her own. If you cannot do that, excuses will not help! REMEMBER: If in doubt,. refuse the sale!

15 15 Proxy Purchasing Proxy purchasing is a term used where a person, over the legal age, buys an age-restricted product on behalf of a child. For example, where a child gives money to an adult to buy alcohol for them. This could be an older brother or sister or a stranger approached outside. In the case of alcohol, both the adult buying the alcohol, as well as the person that sold the alcohol, can commit a criminal offence if they knew or suspected it was being bought on behalf of a child. Aside from a criminal record, they could receive an 80 fixed penalty notice or a 5,000 fine. What can you do? Be vigilant Make sure your staff are aware of the issue of proxy purchasing and the consequences If you suspect a proxy purchase don t sell Display the proxy purchasing posters included in this pack at the entrance to your shop and at the point of sale Retain CCTV footage and liaise with local Police For further information regarding proxy purchasing go to What Happens Now? We (Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire County Council Trading Standards Service) hope that all age-restricted sales premises will adopt Challenge 21 and accept all PASS cards, photo driving licences and passports, but nothing else. At the same time we hope that they will train (and remind) employees of the requirements and check refusals logs regularly and often. We will continue our programme of covert test purchasing to help ensure illegal sales are not made. Where sales are detected, we will investigate the cause. If employees have received training and support, especially if Challenge 21 is in place, but still sell, we will look to take a prosecution or other appropriate action against the seller rather than the owner or licensee. In cases where adequate systems are not in place, we will look to take a prosecution or other appropriate action against both the seller and the owner or licensee. If you require further advice or support, or if nearby businesses compete unfairly by continuing to sell to underage customers, contact us and we will do everything we can to help.

16 16 Guess the age answers: 1 is 19; 2 is 14; 3 is 16; 4 is 20; 5 is 15. Disclaimer: This pack is not an exact statement of what the law requires. It has been produced by Leicestershire Trading Standards for guidance to retailers and for the training of staff. This pack should not take the place of getting advice from Leicestershire Trading Standards and just having the pack in your shop WILL NOT prevent you from being prosecuted if you sell age-restricted items to young people. You need to read it, be familiar with it, use it and check it is being followed REGULARLY and OFTEN. If in doubt call us and we can advise you. A phone call or a visit has got to be worth it if it saves you 5,000!

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