The British Toy and Hobby Association and its members have launched a white paper calling for action from the government to ensure unsafe toys are removed from the market.
The move follows a study by the BTHA across online platforms that found 58% of toys selected for assessment were non-compliant with the toy safety regulations in the UK and 22% of the total had serious safety issues.
“The BTHA has been testing toys on online marketplaces and finding concerning levels of illegal and unsafe toys,” Natasha Crookes, director of communications for the BTHA.
“We have been sharing the results with the platforms and regulators to call for change. We are concerned that unsafe and illegal products are not removed fast enough and identical products remain on sale. There are gaps in the UK regulations, which allow the sellers and the marketplaces to not be held to account and for unsafe toys to continue to be available to UK consumers. We call on government to close that gap before a child is seriously injured or killed by an unsafe toy”.
Members of the BTHA reported concerns to the Association that they believed there were an increasing number of unsafe toys reaching children in the UK through third-party sellers on online marketplaces.
The BTHA sample purchased 200 toys from the largest marketplaces and found 58% of those toys were illegal to sell in the UK as they failed to comply with safety requirements, such as having incorrect labels and no address to be able to trace the seller. Of the 200 toys, 22% had serious safety failures which could cause serious injury or death to a child. Many of the toys have been sent for independent laboratory testing and the assessment results were verified by a panel of industry experts including expert representatives from suppliers, retailers, laboratories and trading standards.
The BTHA has informed the various marketplaces, their Primary Authority Trading Standards Office (where they have one), the BTHA’s own Primary Authority Trading Standards Office and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS).
Some toys highlighted were removed from sale, but not all – and identical products still remain on sale today. Since undertaking the testing of these toys, the BTHA has been trying to call for changes to be made as many of the sellers fall outside the jurisdiction of UK enforcement authorities.
In addition, the online platforms do not have a clear role under the current UK product safety legislation when it comes to the role they play in the supply chain, and what responsibility they have for checking the toys on their sites are safe or legal to sell in the UK. There are no clear legal requirements for the online marketplace platforms to check the safety of the products that are sold via their platform.
The BTHA is calling on government departments to take action to ensure only safe and legal toys can be sold in the UK. The actions the BTHA are calling for are:
1. Immediately we call on the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, specifically the Office for Product Safety and Strategy to work with Trading Standards to ensure they have the resources to ensure the unsafe products we have identified are removed by the online platforms – from the sellers we have identified, but also from the many other sellers that continue to sell identical products.
2. We need Government to lead on defining and clarifying the role and expectations of online marketplaces within the scope of the existing regulations so they are accountable for checking the safety of the products they allow to be sold in the UK. Where necessary, this should be by way of legislative amendment.
3. In the long term we call on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Home Office to widen the definition of ‘online harms’ in the Online Harms White Paper which is currently under consultation. The definition of ‘online harms’ should be widened to include harm from unsafe products sold online to ensure children are protected from the behaviour of unscrupulous individuals and companies that hide behind the names of big brand platforms.
The full report is available on request or can be downloaded from the BTHA website here: https://www.btha.co.uk/advocacy/