The General Election: Plans to Protect Young People

With the General Election looming it is clear to see how a number of parties are aiming to keep the welfare of our young people as an important focus within their pledges. A number of these pledges, aligning with the work Serve Legal have supported for over 18 years.

Whilst our work is never politically motivated, it is indeed politically influenced. With age verification policies, customer welfare and business’ responsibilities highly influenced by the works of the Government, it is important to consider what parties are bringing to the table when it comes to issues of compliance.

So, what are the manifestos saying?

The Conservative and Unionist Party (Manifesto 2024)

Tobacco and Vapes Bill:

Back in October of 2023 the Conservative party announced their plan to curb cigarette usage in young people by banning the sale of vapes for those born after 2009. Alongside this pledge came plans to further restrict vape sales in hopes to bring down nicotine addiction altogether. This pledge is once again reiterated in the Conservatives manifesto, stating to bring forward their ‘Tobacco and Vapes Bill in our first King’s Speech’.

Should this pledge pass, retailers need to be prepared to adapt quickly to new legislation, quickly reacting with appropriate internal business policies, training methods and signage for customers.

Social Media:

Alongside the ban of mobile phone usage during the school day, the Conservative Party are pledging to install further parental controls over access to social media, including more effective age verification controls. To implement this, the party plan to develop necessary technology, in partnership with other countries facing similar concerns, in hopes of building on the existing Online Safety Act.

Should this pledge come to fruition, it is imperative that the technological providers are offering safe and well-vetted technology, free from biases and inaccuracies.

Knife Crime:

To combat increasing instances of knife crime across the UK, the Conservative party have pledged to toughen sentences for knife crime, readdress where the law stands on the possession of knives and invest further into the police force to ensure measures are managed.

The Labour Party (Manifesto 2024) Further details taken from this article.

Knife Crime:

In Labour’s manifesto, a dedicated ‘take back our streets’ mission has been outlined. With Labour reporting that ‘2021/2022 saw the highest number of people killed with a knife for over 70 years. The biggest increase was amongst boys aged 16-17’ work needs to be done to protect our young people from harm.

In their knife crime action plan, they pledge to refer every young person found in possession of a knife with a Youth Offending Team to delivery support. Labour will also ban ninja swords, lethal zombie-style blades and machetes, and strengthen rules to prevent online sales.

Labour pledge that ‘executives of online companies that flout these rules will be personally held to account through tough sanctions’ and so it is intrinsically important for businesses selling these items, and couriers offering delivery, to have strict and diligent compliance regulations in place.

Smoking and Vaping:

To stop children and young people having access and exposure to tobacco and nicotine, the Labour government have proposed a ban on smoking so that the next generation can never become addicted. They also pledge to ‘clamp down’ on underage vaping by restricting branding and advertising of vapes and their subsequent appeal to children, through bans.

Should this come into effect, retailers need to be prepared for the consequences on their business to comply with these new proposals.

Energy Drinks:

The Labour party are proposing legislation to make the sale of energy drinks containing over 150mg caffeine per litre, to anyone under the age of 16, illegal. This pledge comes with the backing of a fully endorsed Trading Standards scheme which will include fines of £2,500 for non-compliance.

It is imperative that retailers are prepared for if this ban comes into place, with preemptive signage, labelling and staff training to ensure young customers are protected along with business reputation.

Serve Legal are market leaders in Age Verification compliance. We support efforts to protect our young people from the harm that can be inflicted by poor compliance policies exposing our youth to tobacco, nicotine, alcohol and gambling addition, energy drinks and knives before legally authorised. To speak with our team to discuss auditing solutions or best practice advice, contact