A new report by the British Toy and Hobby Association (BTHA) reveals that well over half of the toys they bought from online marketplaces had serious safety failures.

Defects BTHA found with the purchased toys included:

  • powerful magnets that can stick together and burn holes in a child’s gut
  • accessible lithium coin cell batteries that can burn through a child’s food pipe
  • small parts that can choke a small child
  • cords long enough to strangle a child.

Worrying, the scale of the problem looks to be on the increase: this was more than double the percentage of toys that BTHA tested and found to be unsafe last year (60% up from 22%).

With the latest restrictions driving many parents online to buy Christmas presents, BTHA is worried they may unknowingly bring dangerous toys into their homes.

Aren’t toys checked before they are sold?

While toys made by reputable companies comply with strict safety standards, overseas sellers can sell unsafe products through well-known online marketplaces.

That’s because – contrary to what many of us believe – an online marketplace is not responsible for checking that a toy is safe before they allow it to be sold.

And with many unsafe toys sold by companies based overseas, trading standards officers struggle to prosecute them.

They are calling for urgent action to regulate online marketplaces and keep children safe.

Katrina Phillips, Chief Executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust, said:

“Parents assume that, if they can buy a toy, it must be safe. It’s frightening to learn that, if they buy a toy from an online marketplace, their child may be at risk of serious injury from powerful magnets or accessible coin cell batteries."

“Sadly, it’s too easy for unscrupulous companies to profit from the cover of online marketplaces, selling toys that don’t meet the high standards reputable manufacturers work to. We support BTHA’s call for action to protect children from harm.”

BTHA offers the following tips to help parents buy safe toys online:

  • If you can, buy a branded toy from the brand itself.
  • Look for the Lion Mark – BTHA members sign an annual declaration to make safe toys.
  • Check if the seller is based in the UK or Europe.
  • If they’re not, take care – don’t assume that any safety tests have been carried out.
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