DUDLEY South MP Mike Wood was due to meet with the UK’s leading toy safety authority today (Tuesday) for talks after a new report revealed 60 per cent of toys tested from online marketplaces could cause serious injury of death to children.

Mr Wood was set to meet with The British Toy and Hobby Association for a critical discussion aimed at bringing urgent and imminent change to the law following the findings in the report commissioned by the Association, which has been published today (October 13) on Amazon’s annual Prime Day sale – one of the biggest online sales events in the calendar.

The Don’t Toy with Children’s Safety report has revealed 86 per cent of randomly selected toys tested failed to comply with UK toy safety laws and 60 per cent had faults that made them unsafe to play with, compared to last year’s report which found 58 per cent of toys were illegal to sell in the UK and 22 per cent were deemed unsafe.

It also found many international sellers fall outside the jurisdiction of UK enforcement authorities which makes it difficult to trace those responsible and hold them accountable; and even when products are reported and delisted by the platforms, seemingly identical products continue to be sold. The report also found there are no defined legal requirements for online marketplaces to check the safety of products that are sold via their platform.

Among the worst products tested were a Crawling Doll (from Ebay) which contained phthalates (a restricted substance) which can cause long term chronic damage to children if absorbed; and the AliExpress Cute Panda Plush which had a removable nose.

Dudley News: AliExpress Cute Panda Plush which had a removable noseAliExpress Cute Panda Plush which had a removable nose

Dudley News: Crawling Doll which contained a restricted substanceCrawling Doll which contained a restricted substance

The report says product testers have consistently and very easily found products with high strength magnets that are accessible and can be swallowed. When swallowed the magnets can link across a child’s colon requiring surgery to remove them.

Dudley News: X-ray of magnet in the gut. Courtesy of ROSPA and the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick ChildrenX-ray of magnet in the gut. Courtesy of ROSPA and the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children

If they go undetected they can cause infection and have resulted in fatalities in children across the globe. The safety standard for this was changed more than 10 years ago to ensure compliant toys do not present this hazard, testers said.

Some products have also been found with small parts that can either be produced by breaking or can be present when the toy is not limited to children aged over three that are less likely to swallow them.

The BTHA has issued repeated warnings about unsafe toys being sold by third party sellers on online marketplaces and with the Christmas shopping season fast approaching – the Association is urging the government to take action now before a child dies.

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.

Dudley News: Natasha Crookes - director of public affairs for the British Toy and Hobby AssociationNatasha Crookes - director of public affairs for the British Toy and Hobby Association

"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 Association is concerned more unsafe toys than ever may be finding their way into parent’s homes with many families buying online amid the Covid-19 pandemic rather than at brick and mortar businesses so a virtual round table meeting with MPs has been called for today to urge the government to take action and change the law.

Mike Wood is among Parliamentarians due to be presented with the BTHA’s findings and given the chance to learn more about the situation so critical changes to the law can be brought in.

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.

Dudley News: Jerry Burnie - head of technical compliance for the British Toy and Hobby AssociationJerry Burnie - head of technical compliance for the British Toy and Hobby Association

"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.”

The Association is calling for:

• Changes to UK legislation to make online marketplaces jointly liable for third-party sales - that means if you buy a toy via a platform, no matter who the seller is, the marketplace has joint responsibility for ensuring it is safe before allowing it to be sold via its site.

• Updates to consumer laws to govern the terms and conditions of online marketplaces, including a warranty as to the quality and fitness for purpose of the products you buy.

• Online marketplaces to be held responsible for enforcement of safety regulations by the sellers on the site – make them police the safety of the products they give a shop window to.

• Trading Standards and the Office for Product Safety and Standards must have the power to take action against marketplace platforms and remove unsafe products from these platforms.

• The Online Harms bill to include physical harm from defective products sold via online market platforms.