Trading Standards is urging retailers to do more to prevent the sale of knives to children, after 15% of its test saw under 18s sold knives last year.
Of 2231 tests, carried out in England and Wales between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, retailers failed to prevent the sale of a knife to a child on 344 separate occasions.
Retailers Poundland, Home Bargains, Asda and Tesco sold knives to children at least 15 times each during the tests. Separately, 100 online test purchases were carried out; children were sold a knife on 41 occasions.
Trading standards has asked retailers to:
- Consider if you need to sell knives at all.
- If you do need to sell knives, store them securely in locked cabinets behind a specific counter.
- Ensure all staff are made aware that knives are age-restricted products and receive regular training and refreshers on an ongoing basis.
- Operate age restricted policies: no ID, no sale.
- Sign up to and adhere to the voluntary Code to restrict sales of knives to children https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sale-of-knives-voluntary-agreement-by-retailers/sale-of-knives-voluntary-agreement-by-retailers
- Carry out mystery shopping to ensure procedures are being followed.
Toby Harris, chair of National Trading Standards, said: “Restricting the sale of knives to children is clearly a difficult issue for retailers, especially those with large numbers of outlets, staff and delivery partners, and I am aware that many retailers are working incredibly hard to train staff and introduce robust procedures to stem the flow of knives to children.
“But let’s be clear – it’s illegal to sell a knife to a child. Our tests show that it’s still too easy for a child to buy a knife in store or online. We know that young people are being cautioned and convicted for knife crime offences, and as such I urge all retailers to do more.”
Kit Malthouse, minister for policing, Crime and Fire, added: “I am deeply concerned to see some retailers are breaking the law and I expect them to take urgent action to stop young people from getting hold of knives in the first place.
”Our Offensive Weapons Act will also help stop knives and weapons making their way onto our streets and being used to carry out appalling attacks.”