Chartered Trading Standards Institute
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CTSI welcomes Which? investigation revealing scale of online weapons sales

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) welcomes the publication of findings from an investigation by consumer brand Which? into illegal weapons sales on online platforms including Amazon, eBay, Wish, and AliExpress.

Which? found a range of illegal swords, knives, and knuckle dusters, alongside friction lock batons used by police forces. Several marketplace sellers disguised their illicit listings. For example, illegal batons were listed as "bătõň" or only used the word baton in the artwork, escaping the site's banned keyword detection. A Karambit, a dangerous claw-like knife, was listed on one site for just £1.79, while a knuckle duster, deceptively advertised as a "self-defence ring", was listed for just 49p.

Amazon and eBay notified Which? that they have since removed all the illegal listings referred to them, while Wish is currently undertaking their removal. Amazon said it would take "appropriate enforcement" against the baton sellers, eBay said it was investigating why the items were not blocked to UK buyers, and Wish said it was "exploring remedial action against any offending merchants." 

These findings reinforce the need for online marketplaces and trading standards departments across the country to continually enhance their collaboration with one another. The globalised nature of this issue, with many manufacturers and sellers based outside the UK, underpins the need for greater international cooperation to bring illicit sellers to justice. 

While additional funding has been made available to support local Trading Standards teams, this money is not ringfenced, so it is unclear whether the cash is being used for what it was originally designated. After a decade of cuts to trading standards budgets of up to 50%, the consumer protection landscape is increasingly precarious which is a major issue right now given the globalised and complex consumer marketplace. It is important that we see funding ringfenced so that consumer protection work can be budgeted with greater certainty over a longer period, creating better outcomes for consumers and law-abiding businesses.

Trading standards professionals, alongside our key stakeholders in business, play a vital role in protecting the public from access to dangerous products whilst promoting a confident consumer base key for economic recovery.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)

  • The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is a national not-for-profit established in 1881 which supports the UK’s trading standards profession and works to protect consumers and safeguard honest businesses. CTSI's members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services at local authorities and businesses.


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