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Unsafe carbon monoxide alarms that fail to detect potentially lethal gas are being sold online | UK News

Dangerous carbon monoxide alarms are being sold online, Which? has warned.

The consumer watchdog says devices that fail to detect high levels of the potentially lethal gas were found on eBay, Amazon, AliExpress and Wish.

Which? claims the government is failing to take “urgent action” to hold these marketplaces to account – and it first flagged one of the unsafe models to eBay seven years ago.

That device failed to respond to carbon monoxide in 10 out of 28 tests – and even when it did, the alarm was too quiet.

Pic: Which?
Pic: Which?

A total of 149 listings for dangerous carbon monoxide alarms were discovered across the four websites – and all of them have now been removed.

eBay was the only company to disclose sales figures, and revealed at least 1,311 had been sold on its platform.

Five dangerous alarm models – all unbranded and made in China – featured prominently on these websites when the “cheapest first” filter was chosen, with some being offered for as little as £5.

One alarm failed to trigger 22 times when carbon monoxide was in the air, while another product didn’t sound in 15 separate tests.

Sue Davies, the watchdog’s head of consumer protection policy, said: “Which? has been raising concerns about dangerous CO alarms for years, yet online marketplaces continue to allow them on their sites and into people’s homes, despite the potentially fatal consequences.

“This is the latest in a long line of examples of unsafe products being readily available on online marketplaces, with far too little action taken by the platforms to prevent them being allowed for sale.

“The government cannot delay any longer. It must move at pace to establish new regulations that put consumer safety first and enable tough enforcement action against online marketplaces that break the rules.”

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Pic: Which?
Pic: Which?

Avril and Gordon Samuel founded the Katie Haines Memorial Trust in 2010 following the death of their daughter from CO poisoning and have been campaigning for better awareness.

Avril said: “We have previously highlighted concerns about some carbon monoxide alarms being sold online, many coming from China, and campaigned vigorously about the need to purchase CO alarms only from reputable manufacturers and retailers.”

She added: “If the alarm is not to standard, this defence is negated and could have fatal results.”

Figures indicate that carbon monoxide poisoning has caused more than 200 accidental deaths in England and Wales in the last decade.

An Amazon spokesman said: “Safety is a top priority at Amazon. We require all products to comply with applicable laws and regulations and have developed industry-leading tools to prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from being listed in our stores.

“We have removed these products pending further investigation.”

Pic: Which?
Pic: Which?

An eBay spokesman said: “We take the safety of our users very seriously and immediately removed the listings reported to us by Which?

“We prohibit unbranded and unsafe brands of smoke or carbon monoxide detectors. We only allow sellers to list approved brands of carbon monoxide detectors and have taken action against the sellers who breached this policy.

“We continuously review and update the measures in place to prevent the sale of unsafe products. We have also conducted further sweeps of our site to remove any similar listings.”

A Department for Business and Trade spokesman said: “We take public safety extremely seriously which is why we are consulting on modernising our product safety framework to hold online marketplaces to account, ensuring items sold online meet the same standards as on the high street.

“If businesses don’t comply with product safety regulations, the Office for Product Safety and Standards will take appropriate enforcement action such as ordering the removal of the product from the market.”

Police ‘arrested volunteers handing out rape alarms’ over coronation disruption concerns | UK News

Police have been criticised after reports that volunteers helping to keep women safe were arrested in the early hours of coronation day.

The Metropolitan Police said that at around 2am on Saturday three people were arrested in the Soho area of central London on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance.

Among the items seized were a number of rape alarms, with the Met saying it had “received intelligence that indicated groups and individuals seeking to disrupt today’s coronation proceedings were planning to use rape alarms to disrupt the procession”.

They added: “There was particular concern from military colleagues that this would scare their horses involved in the procession and, as a result, cause significant risk to the safety of the public and the riders.”

Earlier, the Met had tweeted that the intelligence had “indicated that people were planning to throw rape alarms” to disrupt the procession.

Met Police tweet after arrested Night Stars volunteers

But the three people arrested were reportedly volunteers with the Night Stars programme, which is run by Westminster City Council.

The rape alarms are handed out by the volunteers as part of their efforts to “promote women’s safety and reduce violence against women and girls”, according to the council’s website.

More on King’s Coronation

Councillor Aicha Less, cabinet member for communities and public protection at Westminster City Council, said: “We are deeply concerned by reports of our Night Stars volunteers being arrested overnight.

“This service has been a familiar and welcome sight in the West End for a long time and have extensive training so they can assist the most vulnerable on the streets late at night.

“We are working with the Metropolitan Police to establish exactly what happened, and in the meantime, we are in touch with our volunteers to ensure they are receiving the support they need.”

Council leader Adam Hug added: “We are urgently pushing the police for proper answers.

“Our Night Stars do amazing work helping vulnerable people on the streets at night.”

Westminster council's Night Stars website - the programme is run in partnership with the Met Police.
Westminster council’s Night Stars website – the programme is run in partnership with the Met Police.

‘One of them came out of the station in tears’

The three people arrested – a 37-year-old woman, a 59-year-old woman, and a 47-year-old man – were questioned at a south London police station.

The man was also arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods, police said, with all three since being released on bail pending further enquiries.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ade Adelekan said: “The intelligence we received led us to be extremely worried about the potential risk to public safety.

“We are aware of and understand there is public concern over these arrests. However, the matter is still under investigation.”

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Mic Wright, a journalist who spoke with the three arrested people, wrote on Twitter: “The Met arrested members of the City of Westminster’s Night Safety team.

“They are volunteers.

“They were pulled last night at 2am and have been held for 14 hours.

“One of them came out of the station in tears. Police didn’t apologise.”

Jamie Klinger, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets, tweeted: “The police have done nothing to make women safer and now are arresting their own volunteers working to keep women safe.

“Yet another black eye for (Met Police commissioner) Mark Rowley.”

‘The monarch is there to defend our freedoms – now our freedoms are under attack in his name’

Anti-monarchy group Republic also said six of its members, including its chief executive Graham Smith, were arrested early on Saturday.

Mr Smith was held for almost 16 hours, tweeting after his release at about 11.30pm: “Make no mistake: there is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK.

“I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms.

“Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”

Anti-monarchy protesters gather in Trafalgar Square
Anti-monarchy protesters
Protesters hold placards as people gather on the day of Britain's King Charles and Queen Camilla's coronation ceremony, in London, Britain May 6, 2023. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/Pool

More than 50 arrests on coronation day

The arrests were among more than 50 on the day of the King’s coronation, with affray, public order breaches, and conspiracy to cause public nuisance among the alleged offences.

Met Commander Karen Findlay said: “Our first priority has been to ensure that the tens of thousands who travelled into London today, and millions more around the world, were able to enjoy a safe, secure and dignified coronation.

“We understand public concern following arrests made this morning. We police proportionately and in the context of the event. This is a once in a generation moment and that has been a key consideration.”