Weapons such as knives and axes are being sold on Chinese marketplace app Temu, without age checks taking place, a consumer group has found.
Illegal weapons such as knives disguised as keyrings, folding knives and batons were also discovered in an investigation by Which?.
The consumer group found some weapons were being sold for as little as £4.48.
Researchers believe the lack of controls to prevent those who are underage purchasing age-restricted and even illegal items are even more concerning given how widely advertised the marketplace is on social media.
In total, the investigation identified six weapons they believed to be illegal and were able to purchase seven age-restricted products, two axes and five knives, without age checks.
One of the axes Which? was able to purchase arrived with a physical label on it saying it was a ‘knife for preparing vegetables’, despite it clearly being an axe.
They also said they saw dozens of listed items that could potentially cause harm.
What is Temu?
Temu was only launched in September 2022, but it has quickly become one of the most popular online marketplaces in the UK and beyond.
It recorded close to 38.8 million downloads worldwide in August 2023, and was the most downloaded app in the UK for the year to August.
Which? is now calling for Temu to carry out better checks and monitoring, and remove dangerous items on its site to stop them ending up in the hands of consumers, particularly those under 18.
Anyone caught with some of the items could face arrest and a prison sentence.
Government guidance on the law states it is ‘an offence for any person to manufacture, sell or hire, offer for sale or hire, expose or have in his possession for the purpose of sale or hire’ any banned weapon.
The weapons Which? were able to uncover only demonstrate a snapshot of the scale of the issue of illegal items for sale on Temu. The six ‘age-restricted’ products had been sold over 21,000 times between them.
Sue Davies, Which? Head of Consumer Protection Policy, said: “Temu has had a surge in popularity in the last 12 months but our research shows that it appears to be allowing illegal weapons, including folding knives and batons, and age-restricted products to be made easily available to shoppers using its platform.
“Problems with dangerous products are only going to get worse if new tech giants like Temu continue to be held to weaker standards than high-street retailers.
“The online marketplace needs to improve its checks, monitoring and takedown processes, and ensure third-party sellers cannot list these dangerous items – particularly to young people under the age of 18.”
A Temu spokesperson said: “Temu is committed to complying fully with relevant rules and regulations in all of the markets that we operate in, and we take all reports of violations very seriously.
“After receiving a complaint of a person under 18 purchasing a bladed article from our platform, we immediately removed all related product listings. We also initiated a comprehensive investigation and review of our processes to further strengthen our safeguards and prevent similar cases from occurring again.”
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