What do we do?
Suffolk Trading Standards offers advice, guidance and support to any Suffolk businesses that sell age restricted products to ensure that traders have procedures and resources in place to prevent sales to underage children.
We also work closely with Suffolk Police and Licensing Authorities to carry out covert test purchase operations to businesses in Suffolk who sell age restricted products. We use volunteer children, often between the ages of 14 and 17, to carry out test purchases of age restricted products to ensure shops and businesses are complying with the law. The test purchases are carried out in accordance with an approved national code of practice.
What are age restricted products?
An age restricted product is any product that can only legally be sold to a person of a certain age. Below is a list of all age restricted products and the legal age a person must be to purchase them:
|Alcohol||18 or over|
|Tobacco||18 or over|
|Knives||18 or over|
|Fireworks||18 or over*|
|DVD's||12,15 or 18**|
|Video Games||12,15 or 18***|
|Gas Lighter Refills||18 or over|
|Solvents||18 or over|
|Lottery Tickets||16 or over|
|Spray Paints||16 or over|
|Liqueur Chocolates||16 or over|
What are the consequences of selling age restricted products to underage people?
Offences for the sale of age restricted products carry different penalties. Fines vary between £1000 to £5000 and some carry the possibility of a prison sentence anywhere from 6 months to 2 years if convicted.
For sellers of alcohol who are caught selling to underage individuals, there can be further consequences. Trading Standards can call for a Licensing review which can result in suspension of the licence of complete revocation of the licence, effectively preventing the businesses from selling alcohol, either for a fixed period or permanently.
Additionally, a Police Officer or a properly accredited Trading Standards Officer can issue an on the spot £80 fine for the sale of alcohol to a minor in the form of a Penalty Notice for Disorder.
How can businesses prevent sales of age restricted products to underage individuals?
In the same way that Trading Standards has a responsibility to prevent underage sales businesses who supply age restricted products have an equal, if not greater, responsibility to ensure they do not sell to children.
To ensure your business is doing all it can to prevent underage sales the following steps should be put in place:
- Ensure all staff are trained in the sale of age restricted products.
- Keep written records of the training you have provided to staff, ensuring the records are signed and dated.
- Review all staff training on a regular basis and provide re-training to staff where necessary.
- Keep a Refusals Book to record any refusals made by staff, noting down the date, details of the person refused and why.
- Ensure that a manager or senior person reviews the Refusals Book regularly to ensure it is being completed and to take corrective action where it is not being completed.
- Consider adopting a 'No ID, No Sale' policy requiring staff to ask everyone who looks underage for proof of age before a sale.
- Consider implementing a Challenge 21 or 25 policy to make it easier for staff to identify underage purchases.
- Clearly advertise, using posters, that customers will be asked for identification.
Suffolk Trading Standards does have available an Age Restricted Sales pack that contains more details, advice and resources that businesses can use to prevent sales to children. Below are some links to some resources that can be printed off including guidance on the law, a Refusals Book, a simple staff training record and some other useful resources.
General Age Restricted Sales Guidance (55.4Kb, pdf)
Refusals Book (80.7Kb, pdf)
Simple Staff Training and Feedback Form (41.6Kb, pdf)
Answers to Staff Training Form (38.3Kb, pdf)
Challenge 25 Poster (38.5Kb, pdf)
Tobacco Notice (383Kb, pdf)
For further advice or guidance, or to request a hard copy of the Age Restricted Sales Pack, please contact Suffolk Trading Standards.
Proof of Age
Suffolk Trading Standards support three main types of proof of age identification including photo driving licences, passports and PASS cards bearing the PASS hologram. However, we are aware that as more businesses request forms of identification for age restricted products, more businesses are being offered false identification.
- Always take the identification from the consumer to examine rather than examining from a distance.
- Take the ID out of any holder it may be in. This will often show up poorly made cards.
- Is it too flimsy or too rigid? This could indicate a photocopy or part-genuine ID that has been over-stickered.
- Is the person in front of you the same as in the photograph?
- What does the card actually say? Is it a valid driving licence or a provisional one? Are you instead being shown something that says National Identity Card or European Driving Permit?
- Read the date of birth carefully and ask the consumer to tell you their date of birth while you hold the card. There is a good chance they will struggle.
- Does the card have a swipe strip on the back like a credit card? If so, it is unlikely this is genuine as no proof of age cards in the UK have this.
- The Golden Rule is take your time examining the ID, do not be rushed even if you're busy!
Have any information about shops selling to children?
If so please contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 who will be able to take the details and pass the information to us at Suffolk Trading Standards. Please be assured that any information you provide will be treated in the utmost confidence.
Aged 14-16 and interested in becoming an underage sales volunteer?
If you are aged between 14 and 16 and have an interest in becoming an underage sales volunteer, or know someone who may be interested, please contact Suffolk Trading Standards and request details of how you can get involved.
To read more about Trading Standards visit our homepage.