A popular online shopping site, Wish has been identified for permitting the sale of illegal weapons to UK consumers.
What is Wish?
Wish (currently worth $8.5 billion) is an e-commerce app which is available on desktop, Apple and Android and is popular for its dramatically discounted prices. The shopping site, which imports most of its products from China and other countries in Asia, sells everything from items of clothing, jewellery and makeup to kid’s toys, homeware and even Donald Trump toilet paper. If you can think it, you can probably buy it on Wish. To browse the app, or buy something, all you need to do is to register an account using your Facebook or Gmail login, or with an email address.
What is the concern?
Amongst the weird and wonderful things available on Wish there are some more sinister, and in some cases, illegal products. We created a Wish account to check out rumours of the app selling weapons and were shocked by the sheer amount that were listed, some for as little as £1.
The site advertises many UK banned weapons including butterfly knives, samurai swords, knuckledusters, batons, push daggers and stun guns.
More disturbingly many of these products have high ratings and positive reviews, one user commenting “it’s lightweight, very sharp, and came sooner than expected. Very satisfied.” Another said, “shiny and pointy… just how I like it”.
The maximum penalty for carrying a knife in the UK is a 4 year prison sentence and an unlimited fine. It is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under 18, to carry a knife in public without any good reason and to carry, buy or sell any type of banned knife or weapon.
The website also has no obvious age restrictions, or warnings, despite targeting customers as young as 13. Anyone who creates an account on Wish can buy any one of their products, including knives and weapons.
Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that from March 2017 to the following year, there were over 40,000 offences involving a knife or sharp object in England and Wales. This is the highest number of knife crimes in 8 years and is up by 16% from the previous year. Out of the 21,044 out-of-court disposals given for the possession of a knife or an offensive weapon, 21% of the offenders were juveniles (aged 10-17).
What does Wish say?
The large consumer site was already picked up for selling these products when it was promoted in adverts during the 2018 World Cup by football stars including Gareth Bale and Paul Pogba.
Most Wish sellers are independent and operate from overseas and the company states in their terms of service they are “not directly involved in the transaction between buyers and sellers.” However, the seller’s guidelines which can be found on their website does state that “weapons, firearms, ammunition, assault weapons and high-power lasers cannot be listed”. Additionally, Wish says they have a “diverse audience which may include children as young as 13 years of age” and therefore they reserve “the right to censor or remove any content it feels may be inappropriate or harmful for these customers”.
Wish launched a policy earlier this year whereby merchants will be fined $10 and/or “be removed from the platform without prior notice” for shipping or listing “prohibited” items. However, this seems to have had little effect on the number of weapons and illegal items still being advertised and sold on the website.
What can you do?
Wish is a trendy consumer site among young people, and, admittedly does sell some cool and crazy products for really low prices. However, the site also contains things that are inappropriate for children and young people to view and buy, products such as knives and weapons, drug paraphernalia and adult rated items. Start a conversation with your child about the app, have they heard of it? Have they got an account? If are active on social media then they are already likely to have heard about Wish. It is a good idea to monitor their internet and app use so that you can ensure their safety.
If you have an older young person, start a conversation with them about the dangers of knife crime, teaching them about UK knife/sharp object laws and the consequences of breaking them.
To find outmore information about banned knives and weapons click here.
To find outmore about Wish and their merchant guidelines click here.
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