Search is on for volunteer teen buyers

A RECRUITMENT drive is under way for teenage volunteers to test traders in Northumberland.

Northumberland County Council’s Public Protection Service carries out regular test purchases throughout the area, with the help of local youngsters.

Volunteers between the ages of 12 and 16 are asked to take part in checks to ensure businesses are not selling age-restricted products to underage people, such as alcohol, tobacco, cigarette lighters, fireworks, aerosols, solvents and knives.

In a recent joint operation with Northumbria Police, alcohol was sold to a teenager in Morpeth, and in another test three out of four shops sold ‘sniff kits’ to a 14-year-old, which could have been used for solvent abuse. Trading Standards officers are particularly concerned as solvent abuse can be fatal, even for first-time abusers, and the businesses involved had been given advice about solvent sales earlier in the summer.

Now officials are seeking volunteers to carry out more operations.

Business and Consumer Protection Manager Jimmy Power said: “We are always seeking young volunteers to help us with this crucial work. Without their assistance, these age-restricted product test purchase operations would be unable to take place.

“In carrying out test purchasing exercises we will ensure that the welfare considerations of the child are paramount. Volunteers work under close supervision and in accordance with best practice procedures.”

Any parent or guardian who thinks their teenager would be interested in volunteering should contact the Underage Sales Team on 01670 623706 or email tradingstandards@northumberland.gov.uk