Christmas crackers: child banned from buying festive favourites

Insane British nanny-state laws

A shop assistant refused to let a six-year-old girl help her mother buy a box of Christmas crackers – because of laws banning the sale of "explosives" to children. The cashier told Lisa Innes, 36, that taking the box from her daughter Tia-Rose for scanning at the till was illegal due to the "snap" in the crackers.

Mrs Innes was told that the rules still applied even though she was the one paying for the £4.99 box of ten crackers at the QD store in Stowmarket, Suffolk. The assistant insisted that the Deluxe red and silver crackers could only be bought if they were handed over by an adult for scanning.

Mother-of-three Mrs Innes said the ruling left Tia-Rose in tears because she thought she might end up in jail for breaking the law. She said: "The whole thing was just bizarre. It was just an example of the ridiculous nanny state we live in. "Tia-Rose loves pulling crackers on Christmas Day like any other child and she has never managed to blow herself up yet."

The incident happened after she and her daughter carried several items to the till for payment while out shopping with her 15-year-old son Brandon. Mrs Innes of Buxhall near Stowmarket said: "There was a huge display of crackers in the store and Tia-Rose was attracted to them straight away. "I was not planning to buy any, but I agreed to get some because they were such a reasonable price.

"Tia-Rose asked if she could hold the crackers and I said 'yes' as I didn't see an issue. Nobody batted an eyelid as we walked around the shop a few times. "But when we got to the till the lady told me, 'Do you realise you have been breaking the law'. "I looked behind me thinking she was talking to someone else – but then she stated that allowing Tia-Rose to walk around with the crackers was against the law. "She said that she couldn't take the box from her as she was under 16 and the crackers were classed as explosives. "I could have understood if they were fireworks – but they were just harmless crackers.

"It was also obvious that Tia-Rose wasn't paying for them – but the lady still refused to take them from her. "I was really shocked and my son Brandon was speechless which doesn't happen an awful lot. "I ended up putting down the things I was carrying and giving her the box of crackers myself. "Then the assistant scowled at me when I said I would be giving the box back to my daughter."

She added: "I have to say it upset Tia-Rose so much for two reasons. Firstly, she thought that she couldn't have a Christmas cracker on Christmas day. "Secondly, she also thought that I was going to get sent to prison as the lady said, I had broken the law. She was inconsolable. "The only way I could stop her cry was by insisting that nobody was going to jail and taking her to the bakery for a pink bun.

"I wish stores would think before saying such things to parents with young children around."

A QD Stores spokesman defended the assistant's actions and said the crackers, along with knives and fireworks, were restricted items. He said: "This item is designated as an age-related sale due to the snap inside the cracker. "It's trading standards legislation that such purchases cannot be sold to a person under 16 and in this case we couldn't sell them to a child."

The spokesman accepted that Tia-Rose was not actually making the purchase, but he said the assistant could not be seen to accept the item from her. He added: "Sales assistants and companies can incur very heavy fines in these cases."

The Pyrotechnics Articles (Safety) Regulations introduced in 2010 reinforced laws banning the sale of explosive items to children. The regulations ban all Under 18s from buying outdoor fireworks – but Under 16s are also banned from buying crackers, novelty matches and indoor fireworks. Anyone breaching the rules can face prosecution by the Heath and Safety Executive with a maximum penalty of a (pounds) 5,000 fine or three months imprisonment.


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