Following a test purchase operation in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire’s trading standards leader has said that responsible knife sales are vital for community safety.
Underage volunteers working with the county council’s trading standards team were able to buy knives from four shops out of a total of 11 visited during an operation on April 4. It followed a previous exercise carried out in Stafford in February where six shops sold knives to underage volunteers out of 14 tested.
Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Gill Heath said: “Retailers of all sizes need to ensure their employee training policies are thorough and robust with regard to responsible knife sales. This issue is vitally important to local communities as well as their own business.
“It is illegal to sell a knife or similar product to anyone under 18 years of age and best practice is for the retailer to adopt a recognised age verification system, often referred to as Challenge 21 or 25.
“Four out of 11 shops is once again far too many and our officers will now be working with them to ensure this does not happen again. Clearly knife crime is a concern for everyone, though fortunately Staffordshire remains a place where incidents are rare.”
Trading standards officers will be visiting shops in the coming weeks which failed or contacting head offices to offer advice on ensuring their staff are properly trained and are aware of the consequences of breaking the law. Products sold to under-18s included kitchen knives and retractable bladed knives.
Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards team is supporting Staffordshire Police with its campaign to reduce knife crime.
Superintendent Ricky Fields, head of operational services at Staffordshire Police, said: “Our recent Operation Sceptre saw the county’s policing teams come together to crack down on those carrying knives and educating youngsters on the dangers.
“During the week of 12 to 16 Feb we continued our work visiting secondary schools and primary schools to deliver knife education activities and we reached 750,000 people on social media. However we know that more needs to be done to stop young people accessing knives all too easily.
“The work by Staffordshire County Council’s trading standards team shines a welcome light on those retailers willing to ignore the law. To continue this good work we will be working with partners to enhance standards and training in stores across the county to prevent knives falling into the wrong hands.”