Underage sales

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It is a criminal offence for businesses to sell age-restricted products such as alcohol, cigarettes, knives and fireworks to people too young to legally buy them.

It is also illegal to sell videos and computer games to persons under the classified age.

Offenders will be fined and may face prison terms.

How to report underage sales

You can report underage sales via our online form.

If you are unable to complete our online form please email wfdirect@walthamforest.gov.uk, call 020 8496 3000, or visit a Library Plus branch for advice on how to complete the form.

Alcohol Click to get info

You must not sell alcohol to any person under the age of 18 years.

No one under the age of 18 years can sell alcohol.

It is an offence for you to sell or supply intoxicating liquor to any person under the age of 18 years in premises licensed to sell alcohol. It is an offence for a person (e.g. the licence holder) to allow any of his staff to sell alcohol to a minor in licensed premises. You must ensure that you have taken appropriate measures to satisfy yourself that the buyer is at least 18 years of age. If in any doubt, ask for photo identification as proof of age from young customers as appropriate.

The maximum penalty for either of these offences is a level 3 fine of £5,000.

It is an offence for you or your staff to sell cigarettes or any tobacco products to a person under the age of 18 years. It is up to you to decide whether or not that person looks 18 years of age. If in doubt, you should not sell cigarettes or tobacco products to them. This includes sales from tobacco vending machines.

You must sell cigarettes in packets of 10 or more and in their original packaging.

You must display a clear sign where you sell cigarettes stating “It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18”.

If you sell cigarettes to any person under the age of 18 years, you could face a fine of up to £2,500.

Fireworks and sparklers

You cannot sell fireworks and/or sparklers to anyone under the age of 18 years. You cannot sell fireworks to anyone who you feel is, or looks, under that age.

Party poppers/caps/cracker snaps

You cannot sell party poppers, caps, cracker snaps, novelty matches, serpents and throw downs to anyone who you feel is, or looks, under the age of 16 years.

Shopkeepers who breach the requirements can be prosecuted in a magistrates court and if found guilty can be fined up to £5000, face a term of imprisonment, or up to 6 months, or both.

Cigarette lighter fuel

You must not sell or supply cigarette lighter fuel or any cigarette lighter re-fill canister containing butane, or any other substance containing butane, to any person under the age of 18 years.

The penalty for selling the above to an underage person is up to 6 months imprisonment, or a fine of £5,000, or both.

Intoxicating solvents

It is an offence for you to sell or supply any substance to a person under the age of 18 years, or to a person acting on their behalf, knowing, or having reasonable cause to suspect that the substance, or its fumes will be inhaled for the purpose of causing intoxication.

Along with solvent based glue and aerosols these include dry cleaning fluid, correction fluid and thinner, marker pens, ‘cold start’ and anti-freeze)

The maximum penalty on summary conviction is up to 6 months imprisonment, or a fine of £5,000, or both.

Aerosol paint

You must not sell an aerosol paint container (a device which contains paint stored under pressure and which is designed to permit the release of paint as a spray) to anyone under 16.

It is illegal to sell, rent or supply a video cassette, or a DVD unless it has been given legal classification by British Board of Film classification.

Most computer games are exempt from classification, but some must be classified by the BBFC. For these the same restrictions apply.

The penalty for selling or hiring out a video cassette/DVD which should have been classified but has not been is an unlimited fine and/or up to 2 years imprisonment.

You cannot sell, rent or supply video cassettes or DVDs to any person under the ages of 12, 15 and 18 years unless the material has been classified suitable for that particular age.

Restricted 18 video cassettes and DVDs can be supplied only in licensed sex shops to persons 18 years and over.

The maximum penalty on summary conviction is a fine of £20,000, a term of imprisonment of six months, or both.

Air weapons

It is an offence for you to sell or supply an air weapon to a person under the age of 18 years, It is also an offence for a person under the age of 18 years to have an air weapon in a public place unless it is securely fastened in a gun cover in such a way that it cannot be fired.

It is an offence to make a gift of an air weapon to a person under 14 years of age.

The penalty for selling or hiring an air weapon to a person under the age of 18 years is up to 6 months imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000 or both.

Crossbows

It is an offence for you to sell or hire a crossbow to a person under the age of 18 years. The maximum penalty on summary conviction is 6 months imprisonment or a fine of £5,000 or both.

Knives

It is illegal to sell the following items to anyone under 18-years-old:

  • Any knife, knife blade or razor blade
  • Any axe
  • Any article which has a blade or which is sharply pointed, and which is made or adapted for causing injury to the person

The prohibition does not apply to:

  • A folding pocket knife with a blade of less than three inches (7.62cm); or
  • A razor blade permanently held in a cartridge or similar housing where less than 2mm of the blade is exposed

The prohibition is not intended to apply to articles such as scissors or compasses.

The maximum penalty on summary conviction is 6 months imprisonment or a fine of £5,000 or both.

It is an offence to sell an imitation firearm to a person under the age of 18.

The penalty for supplying a person under the age of eighteen with an imitation firearm is 6 months or a fine of £5,000 or both.

It is illegal to sell lottery tickets or scratch cards to a person under the age of 16.

It is also illegal for members of staff under the age of 16 to sell lottery tickets or scratch cards.

If you sell lottery or scratch cards to someone under 16 you may be fined up to £5,000 and/or serve two years imprisonment.

Petrol Click to get info

It is illegal to sell petrol to a person under the age of 16.

No person under the age of 18 years should be left in sole charge of a petrol station.

If you sell petrol to a person under 16 you may be fined up to £5,000.

Bookmakers Click to get info

It is an offence under the Gambling Act 2005 to invite, cause or permit a person under the age of 18 years to gamble

A person committing this offence may be fined up to £5,000 or serve up to 51 weeks imprisonment.

If you don't have access to a computer, you can visit a Library Plus branch where you can use a self-service pc to log your request/report.  Staff are available to support you if you need it.

Contact Click to get info

Contact Waltham Forest Trading Standards via Citizen Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06 for civil advice and to report a problem with a trader or product.

Waltham Forest Trading Standards
Magistrates Court
1 Farnan Avenue
Walthamstow
London
E17 4NX

environmentalhealth@walthamforest.gov.uk