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April 3, 2017 - 14:16

Not asking for ID has led to the owner of a Plymouth sunbed salon being ordered to pay  a total of £3450 today by Plymouth magistrates.

Miss Gillian Rowe of Wispy Styler based in Fircroft Road pleaded guilty for failing to check the age of a 16 year old volunteer as part of a test purchase operation in August 2016. This was the second time the salon had failed a test purchase in 12 months.

The Council carries out several test purchase operations on age restricted products like alcohol, cigarette and sun beds in Plymouth to test a business’s procedures and to ensure compliance with the legislation.  This is the first time that a business has been prosecuted for offering a child access to a sunbed in Plymouth.

Despite the Council providing information and advice and access to a free online training package, Mrs Rowe had failed to provide any evidence that she given her staff any formal training or follow up refresher courses.

Miss Rowe was fined a total of £1500 and ordered to pay £1800 costs and a £150 victim surcharge. In mitigation she told the court that had been struggling with personal and business issues. But she fully accepted that a member of staff had made a mistake due inadequate training procedures.

Councillor Dave Downie, Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Communities said: “I hope todays result serves as a wake up call for other businesses in Plymouth.  It is unacceptable that businesses are not providing adequate training for their staff and everyone must ensure they challenge young people about their ages.  Employees and employers must take their responsibilities seriously even when they are busy with other clients.”

Dr Ruth Harrell, the Council’s Director of Public Health said: “Plymouth has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the country and if you use sunbeds before the age of 35 then you are 59 per cent more likely to get skin cancer compared to people who have never used a sunbed.  Skin cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in 15 to 34 year olds, and the law was introduced after a number of serious burns to children using sunbeds. A young person’s skin is more vulnerable to damage and they may not always appreciate the long term health effects from using sunbeds, which include cataracts, conjunctivitis and premature ageing of the skin, as well as sunburn and skin cancer.” 

Government advice is to avoid using sunbeds. People with fair, sensitive skin that burns easily or tans slowly should not use sunbeds.  Those with a history of sunburn, particularly in childhood, or who have a large number of freckles or moles and/or red hair, should also avoid them.

The legislation restricting the age of sunbeds to 18 has been in place since 2011, however a large number of sunbed businesses are still not challenging young people about their age. 

The Council is currently offering all businesses a free online underage sales training package and coaching and in-house training can be arranged. Anyone who looks under 25 years old must be asked for ID and businesses should only accept those with a PASS hologram e.g. driving licence, passport and citizen cards.

For further information contact the Public Protection Service on 01752 304147 or email or visit