Retailers Selling Knives ’14 Year Olds’, Finds Study

Having our security shutters on your Wrexham store will ensure that you protect your livelihood as much as possible, but when it comes to your business and its place in the community, responsibility is key. And, in light of a new study by the Local Government Association (LGA), is it time to talk to staff about your responsibilities for age-checking when selling knives and sharp objects?

According to the research, outlined by The Independent, as many as six out of 10 retail stores in some areas of the UK are failing to make the required checks for selling knives, and in some instances have sold them to children as young as 14. At present, it is illegal in the UK to sell a knife to anyone under the age of 18 without a valid identification card.

This research has been created using test purchases by Trading Standard services. According to the figures, some 41 per cent of online knife retailers made illegal sales to people under the age of 18, while in North Yorkshire, a 16-year-old test purchaser was able to buy a knife from six out of the 10 major shops tried.

However, while the stores in question received written warnings or further investigation, this research comes with the warning that funding is running dry for funding the discovery and prosecution of ‘rogue’ shops. The LGA said that money from the Serious Violence Strategy, from the Home Office, would not be enough to enforce this work long term, While this might sound like good news for retailers, it’s bad news for communities where knife crime continues to run rampage.

A £1 million fund was split between 11 councils in order to allow test purchases to take place. Going forward, there will only be enough for six councils, and no further online testing, the LGA confirmed. This is despite a new Offensive Weapons Bill which is set to become law later this year, which aims to criminalise the delivery of any knives and corrosive products such as acids to under 18-year-olds from online or mail order, with councils responsible for testing this at the point of delivery.

Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said that knife crime is destroying communities and that illegal knife sales risk fuelling the problem, so the government cannot afford to be lax with funding. “Given the knife crime epidemic, the significant cuts to trading standards budgets and the extra enforcement activity that will be needed when the Offensive Weapons Bill becomes law, this fund needs urgent further investment and extending to many more councils to tackle illegal knife sales and protect people from harm,” he says.

If you retail knives, your staff should be challenging anyone they believe looks under 25 for proof of identity that they are over the age of 18. To go one step further, you could also follow the leads of larger supermarkets such as Asda, and this week Tesco, who have made the move to remove single knives from sale, in an attempt to make getting hold of a potentially dangerous weapon harder.