Discount retailer B&M Bargains has been fined a record amount of £480,000 after two of its stores were found selling knives to children.
The company was found to be selling the knives during an undercover investigation conducted by police and trading standard officers in east London. The retailer was said to “repeatedly” sell the weapons to children as young as 14.
Four children, aged between 14 and 16, were sent to its stores in Chadwell Heath and Barking on separate occasions last September despite it being illegal to sell blades to anyone under the age of 18. On 22 June, the retailer admitted to selling the knives.
At a sentencing hearing on Friday (21 September) at Barking Magistrates’ Court, B&M was ordered to pay a £480,000 plus £12,428 court costs and a £170 victim surcharge. The retailer has 28 days to pay the fine.
District Judge Gary Lucie said knife crime was at “record levels” across the country, particularly London and added Barking and Dagenham was the 17th most affected borough for knife crime in the capital, while nearby borough Redbridge was the most affected.
He said: “Clearly these offences were not deliberate nor were there serious or systematic failures within the organisation regarding the underage sales of knives. However, it appears to me that whilst systems were in place they were deficient and sufficiently adhered to or implemented at these stores.”
“The volunteers were as young as 14 which is a long way short of 18 and substantially less that B&M’s own Challenge 25 policy. In each case there were inadequacies in the training and refresher training of staff and other faults with labelling and signage. One of the most concerning failures is that B&M did not consider and implement further measures for these stores in what it accepts are high risk areas.”
When contacted by Retail Sector, B&M declined to comment.