Law abiding retailers in England and Wales will have to put up with fewer routine test purchases of age-restricted products by trading standards officers in their stores under strict guidelines issued this week.  The government has instructed local authorities to cease targeting businesses without evidence they are selling products to under-age customers, while focusing on rogue traders and building closer relationships with retailers and police.

The good news was contained in a code of practice published last week by business minister Michael Fallon aimed at putting an end to the “tick box” regulation in sales of items including tobacco, alcohol, knives and glue.  Mr Fallon said it will strengthen the protection of young people and reduce red tape for responsible businesses that sell age-restricted products safely, legally, and profitably.  However, the guidelines stop short of having the force of law and leave it open to trading standards officers to make local policy.