The British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA), and its members have launched today a white paper calling for action from the UK government to ensure that unsafe toys are removed from the market after conducting a study across online platforms. The calls come after a BTHA study found that 22% of toys being sold on the big three online platforms in the UK have serious safety problems that could be fatal for children playing with them.
The BTHA, which represents responsible toy makers across the UK, has sample purchased 200 toys from the largest online marketplaces and found 58% of those toys were illegal to sell in the EU as they failed to comply with safety requirements, such as having incorrect labels and no address to be able to trace the seller. Even more worryingly, of the 200 toys, 22% had serious safety failures which could cause serious injury or death to a child.
Natasha Crookes, Director of Communications for the BTHA says “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”.
Some toys highlighted by the BTHA have been 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.
Online marketplaces have disrupted the traditional retail market which has driven changes for consumers including convenience and choice. However, this cannot be at the detriment of safety and laws need to be adapted to recognise that online marketplaces have established a new kind of international marketplace which requires more stringent regulatory oversight.