Market trader fined for possessing dangerous toys for supply

Market trader fined for possessing dangerous toys for supply
17 January 2020

A market trader has been fined for possessing dangerous squishy toys with a view to supplying them to customers.

An investigation by Darlington Borough Council’s Trading Standards team found the trader had also been applying his own fake CE mark stickers to the toys.

Greg Lane, aged 52, of Sidcup Avenue, Park End, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty in Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court on 15 January 2020 to eight toy safety offences brought under the Consumer Protection Act 1988.

He was fined and ordered to pay costs which came to a combined £1,134 and an application for forfeiture of all the items seized was granted.

In December 2018, following a tip-off, Trading Standards visited Lane’s stall on Darlington’s outdoor market and seized items, which included 43 squishy toys, and a quantity of warning stickers bearing fake CE marks, after spotting that some of the toys only had basic non-compliant labelling and most had no labelling at all.

A selection of the toys were sent away for analysis and all were found to be unsafe. It was found that, after tension testing, foam from the toys could be ripped off, which released small parts that presenting a choking hazard to young children. The test report verified legally required markings and information were not present.  

Lane was issued with a Withdrawal Notice by Trading Standards under general product safety legislation to prevent him from supplying any more of the squishy toys.

Dawn Taylor, Trading Standards and animal health manager, said: “It is vitally important that traders know, understand and comply with the law to ensure the toys that they supply and sell to consumers are safe. 

“It’s children, particularly young children, who pay the highest price, often with their health or even their lives, if the toys they play with are not safe. 

“Trading Standards will continue to do all it can to ensure that children are protected from the risks posed by dangerous toys but consumers must remain vigilant too.   

“One of our key roles is to maintain a safe and fair trading environment within Darlington. Much can be achieved by working with businesses to secure compliance but we will not hesitate to take robust enforcement action where the need arises.

"The absence of legally required information strongly suggested that proper safety assessments of the toys had not been made."

Councillor Jonathan Dulston, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for stronger communities, said: “The sentence handed down should act as a clear warning to those businesses who fail to comply with the law and indeed those that deliberately flout the law. 

“I would urge businesses who are unsure of their obligations to get advice as soon as possible. It’s frightening to think about what may happen if a child comes into contact with an unsafe toy.”

Trading Standards advises consumers to shop safely for toys and look for:

  • The CE mark, which is the manufacturer’s indication that the toy complies with essential safety requirements
  • The manufacturer or importer’s details
  • A type, batch, serial or model number
  • Instructions for use, safety information and warnings

Anyone with concerns about the safety or labelling of toys can contact Darlington Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.

“It’s children, particularly young children, who pay the highest price, often with their health or even their lives, if the toys they play with are not safe.”

- Dawn Taylor, Trading Standards manager