TEENAGE undercover agents are needed to help Dorset County Council identify traders operating illegally.

Volunteers aged 14 and 15 will conduct test purchases in shops to see if staff sell them age-restricted items.

Trading standards officers will instruct the young people on where to attempt to purchase restricted items such as cigarettes and alcohol.

The council’s trading standards officers are responsible for making sure retailers know the law and do not sell such products to people under the legal age.

One of the ways to check that this is happening is by running test purchasing exercises.

Young volunteers will go into shops or pubs ‘undercover’ to try and buy age restricted products.

Trading standards will then advise or take action against sellers who are breaking the law.

Cllr Andrew Parry, Dorset County Council’s Cabinet member for education, learning and skills, said: “Keeping residents safe is an important part of trading standards work. By helping us to ensure traders adhere to laws, young people can gain a unique experience into our work.”

Volunteers are collected from their home by a police officer or trading standards officer and they will take part in the exercise in a different area of Dorset where they will not be recognised.

Test purchasing takes place in the evenings and during half term holidays and sometimes at weekends.

Volunteers are about 14 or 15 and look their age. There is no payment for their time, but they can put the experience on their personal statements and CVs when they apply for jobs or for university.

Interested teenagers should email tradingstandards@dorsetcc.gov.uk with details of age, height and where they live.

Anyone interested who meets the criteria will be contacted by a Trading Standards Officer to arrange a convenient time to meet with their parent/legal guardian.

The teenagers, parents and guardians will then get the chance to discuss the exercise further before agreeing to take part.