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Successful prosecutions on underage sales

Ealing’s trading standards recently achieved two successful prosecutions on underage sales of knives and tobacco to children.

The team continuously work to safeguard consumers and protect local businesses. As part of their actions to ensure businesses are compliant, they carry out test purchase operations with underage test purchasers.

All businesses are aware that test purchases may be carried out at any time and that they will be prosecuted if they do not prevent sales to children.

Underage test purchase operation

The trading standards team have been carrying out a series of test purchases since October 2020, as part of an operation to ensure traders have appropriate measures in place to prevent age restricted product sales to minors, including the sale of knives, tobacco and vape products.

Over the course of two days, an underage test purchase operation took place. The trading standards operations team, including a 14-year-old underage test purchaser, tested 27 premises in Southall, Acton, and South Ealing. 24 premises successfully prevented the minor from purchasing age restricted products.

While overall this was a good result and indicative that traders in Ealing have taken on board advice from trading standards, three premises had allowed illegal sales.

One of the premises sold a knife but interrupted the purchaser from leaving the premises, and received further advice and a final warning as a result.

But two businesses were successfully prosecuted.

Summary of prosecutions

At Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on 20 July 2021, the following prosecutions took place:

  • Acton Food Store Limited, trading as Marrakech Supermarket London at 140 Churchfield Road, Acton, W3 6BS. The store owner was found guilty of selling cigarettes to someone under the age of 18 and was fined £800 and ordered to pay the council’s costs of £424 and a Victim Surcharge of £80.
  • US Technology Limited trading as Acton General Store at 237 Acton High Street, Acton, W3 9BY pleaded guilty to selling a knife to someone under the age of 18, they were fined £1,200 and ordered to pay the council’s costs of £1,453 and a Victim Surcharge of £120.

Keeping children safe a top priority

Councillor Aysha Raza, cabinet member for tackling inequality said: “Removing knives from the streets of Ealing to keep children safe is a top priority. All partners have a responsibility to help in this battle. Retailers are already doing so much to prevent the sale of knives through their outlets, but children still manage to buy knives, and this is a concern.

“Many young people appearing at Youth Court appear because they are in possession of a knife or have used a knife, so tackling online and shop sales of knives needs to be very robust if we are to keep children and young people safe and work to tackle inequality. Every knife not on our streets is literally a life saved.”

Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for decent living incomes said: “We want our local businesses to thrive, but unfortunately there are also those that seek to exploit vulnerable people, knowingly and sometimes unknowingly. Operations like this are a warning to businesses that might be tempted to break the law. It also gives our reputable businesses confidence that criminals will be prosecuted.

“Our trading standards officers do a brilliant job in advising and enforcing laws with businesses which has helped us to continue to keep this level of compliance across the borough.

“I encourage all residents to continue to stay vigilant by reporting consumer concerns.”

To report a business, you may have concerns about email: tradingstandards@ealing.gov.uk

Find out more about age restricted product sales and the work of Ealing trading standards team.

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