A BBC Watchdog investigation aired on 8 Oct found that out of 50 retail stores visited, only one managed to correctly fit its own brand child car seat.
The programme visited 10 stores belonging to each of the retailers John Lewis, Halfords, Mothercare, Toys ‘R’ Us and Smyths and purchased the company’s basic own brand child seat – and then asked for the seat to be installed using the company’s professional fitting service.
Only one of the stores managed to fit the seat properly, and all five retailers have now promised to review their training procedures.
Watchdog’s expert advisors were Julie Dagnall and Claire Waterhouse of Child Seat Safety, both of whom appeared in the programme. The Transport Research Laboratory was also involved in testing the fitting methods shown in the programme – with alarming results.
Over the last three years Child Seat Safety says it has carried out checks on more than 7,000 child seats and found that 51% were incorrectly fitted. Claire Waterhouse says that parents frequently say the wrongly-installed seat was either fitted by a retailer, or fitted as shown by the retailer. She describes this is “alarming, as we expect the retailers to be experts on the products they are selling”.
Child Seat Safety is campaigning, with the support of Watchdog, to ensure that anyone giving child car seat advice to consumers is properly trained and qualified.
Child Seat Safety delivers a training course, accredited by IOSH (The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health), which is designed to ensure anybody giving advice or fitting child restraints has a standard of knowledge to enable them to fit the restraint correctly, and give advice on the correct restraint the parent should be using.
Julie Dagnall and Claire Waterhouse will present the findings from the Watchdog programme to delegates attending the National Road Safety Conference in Nottingham on 18-19 November.