The convenience store sector is being encouraged to take part in the consultation process on a new code of practice for the test purchasing of age-restricted products.
Views are now being sought on the consultation paper, Age Restricted Products and Services: a Code of Practice for Regulatory Delivery, developed by the Better Regulation Delivery Office BRDO), in collaboration with business and regulators.
James Lowman, chief executive at the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), said: “We have long argued for a code of practice in this area. This consultation is an important step to ensuring a genuine partnership approach to the rules around the sale of age-restricted products.
“The objective must be to deliver consistency for retailers in what they can expect from trading standards and the police.
“We encourage retailers to get involved in the consultation to make sure the final code is a key tool which will encourage increased clarity in this area for both businesses and regulators.”
The code of practice will be applicable to all local regulatory activities undertaken in England and Wales and will cover areas including prioritisation and targeting, working with businesses and communities, conduct of checks on compliance and responses to non-compliance.
The code of practice covers all products and services for which statutory age restrictions are in place and all relevant compliance and enforcement activities, whether in relation to premises, or to the online supply of these products and services.
To view the draft code go to: http://www.bis.gov.uk/brdo/latest/arp-consultation.
The BRDO said the draft code could influence the ways of working of around 4,000 frontline regulators. It aims to reduce harm to young people by tackling rogue traders and working with responsible businesses through new approaches to testing, targeting and follow-up for enforcers.
This includes letting businesses know when they pass or fail a test purchase, increased targeting of businesses, leading to fewer, more effective tests, and routine consultation with primary authorities where relevant.
Business minister Mark Prisk MP asked for a code of practice after business – through the Local Better Regulation Office’s Business Reference Panel – identified age-restricted sales as a major area of regulatory burden.
He said: “Local regulation needs to deliver the protection that individual young people need, and in doing so, to contribute to better outcomes for local communities, citizens and businesses.
“Approaches to tackling the problem of the availability and supply of age-restricted products need to be joined up and reflect all the factors influencing the behaviour of young people. These approaches have to be a shared responsibility for business, regulators, government, parents and young people.”
The draft code of practice is structured into four sections: prioritisation and targeting, working with businesses and communities, conduct of checks on compliance, and responses to non-compliance. It is applicable to all local regulatory activities undertaken in England and Wales. It covers all products for which statutory age restrictions are in place, and all relevant compliance and enforcement activities.
The draft code is based on the principles framework published by LBRO in November 2011, which set out an agreed set of shared responsibilities and reasonable expectations for young people, parents, businesses, employees and regulators.