We all want to see a healthier Scotland with safer and stronger communities where young people have the opportunity to flourish and reach their full potential in life. Over the years Government has brought in a wide range of legislation to place age restrictions on certain goods such as fireworks, knives, solvents, tobacco and alcohol in order to ensure that we properly protect our young people from known dangers.
But we recognise that placing an age restriction on a product does not bring automatic protection and reduce the potential harm of that product. We need to take a range of measures including working with our young people to educate them about the risks and give them clear health messages. We have to alert retailers to the laws and their responsibilities in ensuring that age restricted goods do not get into the hands of underage youngsters. Importantly we require to ensure that age restricted legislation is properly enforced and that compliance levels are high if we are to offer our young people full and effective protection.
Test purchasing provides the Police and Trading Standards Officers with a useful additional tool to help prevent illegal underage sales. In order to ensure the safety and welfare of the young people taking part and a fair, effective and even handed approach to test purchasing procedures across Scotland, the Society of Chief Officers for Trading Standards in Scotland ( SCOTSS) and Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland ( ACPOS) in conjunction with the Crown Office and Prosecution Fiscal Services have worked together in order to produce an operational protocol, drawing on experiences gained from the Scottish test purchasing pilots. " A Practical Guide To Test Purchasing In Scotland" is essential reading for local authorities and police forces undertaking test purchasing.
The Scottish Government believe active test purchasing will encourage traders to be more vigilant in exercising their legal obligations and put in place effective procedures to avoid underage sales, giving our young people the protection they deserve. We would therefore encourage all Local Authorities and Police Forces to adopt a test purchasing regime.
We would like to acknowledge the Local Authority Coordinators of Regulatory Services ( LACORS) assistance in drawing up the practical guidance. We would also like to extend our thanks to Age Restricted Sales Enforcement Group for overseeing the Scottish test purchasing pilots and the production of "A Practical Guide To Test purchasing in Scotland".