Several independent cookshops and housewares stockists joined the Metropolitan Police at New Scotland Yard recently for a focus group on how to sell knives safely.
The bira (Britsh Independent Retailers Association) members involved were Vin Vara, from The Tool Shop Group, Alan Wood from Trevor Mottram in Tunbridge Wells, Haresh Patel from Tylers Homecare of Notting Hill, Holly Wilson from Richard Dare and Prep Cookshop (both in North London) and honorary bira member and cookshop stalwart Gary Gordon.
The aim of the focus group was to gain feedback from retailers on potential educational videos for retail staff, to be used when selling knives. The day was run by the Met and MOPAC -The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.
Recognising the significance of well-educated staff, bira welcomes the development of educational videos as a tool to spread the message on knives sales legislation (who can legally buy knives and what staff should do).
This focus group follows on from an on-going campaign that bira is involved with in conjunction with the Home Office (as well as other bodies including the ACS and BRC) to support the fight against knife and corrosive substances crimes.
At a recent Home Office meeting bira presented reasons why it is not workable for retailers to sell knives exclusively from a locked glass cabinet or an obscured cabinet (similar to cigarettes). The Tool Shop’s Vin Vara and bira direct’s Jeff Moody provided evidence to show the Government that it is unpractical to lock away all potentially dangerous items in a retail business, citing space constraints in small stores and the costs involved. There is also unclear guidance on what exactly constitutes a potential weapon. The Home Office was in agreement, recognising that it is more manageable for retailers to keep knives in an area that customers cannot access, such as behind the counter.
Vin reports: “We’ve been attending lots of meetings in recent months on the subject of knives and we’ve been working with manufacturers, suppliers, bricks and mortar retailers, online retailers and other associations and groups to help the Government.”
Reflecting on the proposals for new laws, Vin adds: “We are at loggerheads with the Government over online sales of knives as the Government does not want them to be delivered to a residential address, but we will continue to work on this so that a sensible solution is found for all.”
Top: bira member and owner of two London cookshops, ie Prep Cookshop and Richard Dare: Holly Wilson outside Scotland Yard, the venue for a focus group on the sale of knives at the end of November.