Dangerous toys are being sold on online marketplaces

More than half of toys tested from online marketplaces had serious safety issues which could seriously injure – or even kill – a child, the toy industry body has warned.
Many toys bought online were found to be unsafe.Many toys bought online were found to be unsafe.
Many toys bought online were found to be unsafe.

The British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) said 60 per cent of toys it tested from internet sellers had serious safety failures, while 86 per cent were illegal to sell in the UK.

Problems found include access to small batteries and magnets, which could cause serious harm if ingested, and long cords which pose a strangulation risk.

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It said that the closure of physical stores during the pandemic meant that people relied more heavily on e-commerce and warned that with many international sellers falling outside the jurisdiction of UK enforcement authorities, it is difficult to trace those responsible and hold them accountable for unsafe toys.

The number of unsafe toys found is far higher than last year, 58 per cent of toys were found to be illegal to sell in the UK and 22 per cent were deemed unsafe.

The BTHA said that even when products are reported and delisted by the platforms, seemingly identical products continue to be sold. It described trying to remove unsafe products as “like playing wack-a-mole”.

Natasha Crookes, director of public affairs for the BTHA, said: “Little or no action has been taken to make sustained changes that will protect children from unsafe toys. Faults we have identified include access to small batteries that burn the oesophagus if swallowed, use of restricted chemicals, small parts which are a choke risk, the use of long chords with their increased risk of strangulation and magnets which are extremely harmful if ingested.

The report, Don’t Toy With Children’s Safety, is to be put before MPs at a virtual round table event todaywhen the BTHA will call for changes to UK legislation to make online marketplaces jointly liable for third-party sales – meaning that if someone buys a toy via a platform, no matter who the seller is, the marketplace must take joint responsibility for ensuring it is safe before allowing it to be sold via its site.

It also said that the Online Harms bill should include physical harm from defective products sold via online market platforms.

Jerry Burnie, head of technical compliance for the BTHA, said: “We are calling on government to take action to protect children before another child is seriously injured, or even dies. In the meantime, consumers should exercise caution when buying toys from third-party sellers on online marketplaces such as Amazon, Alibaba’s AliExpress and eBay and should follow the BTHA consumer tips to reduce the chances of buying dangerous toys.”

Sue Davies, head of consumer protection at Which?, said: “Which? has repeatedly exposed products, including baby sleeping bags, chargers and Christmas tree lights, that have been poorly made and appear to be sold without any safety checks or monitoring on online marketplaces.

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“Online marketplaces must be given more legal responsibility for preventing unsafe products from being sold on their sites so that fewer dangerous products end up in people's homes.”

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