Retailers selling knives to children

As knife crime in the UK continues to result in tragic loss of young life, housewares retailers are under criticism for selling knives illegally to young people under 18, and not undertaking the required age verifications.

National Trading Standards is now calling on retailers to do more to prevent knife crime after the interim findings (from October to the end of January) of its new (and on-going) programme of test purchasing.

The findings reveal a 12% failure to undertake age verification among retail premises visited, which grew to a startling 50% failure rate among online retailers.

Retailers that have failed the checks include a number of well-known high street and online brands. They cannot be mentioned by name due to the prospect of potential enforcement action against those found to be in breach of the law.

The programme has also found that more than 70% of retailers visited do not have theft prevention measures in place in relation to knives.

“Our programme with the Home Office has only been running a few months but already evidence has shown that knives appear to be being sold illegally to young people,” stated Lord Toby Harris, chair of National Trading Standards.  He continued: “We call on retailers to play their part in combatting this scourge on society by taking immediate action.”

Lord Toby also reflected:  “As we have tragically seen in recent weeks and months, knife crime is one of the most serious issues facing our country, and we have sadly witnessed its fatal consequences.”

A Home Office spokesperson commented on the work of the National Trading Standards and the wider changes surrounding the sales of knives:

“This Government is determined to prevent access to offensive weapons.

“It is already illegal to sell knives to under 18s and it is vital that retailers continue to play their part. We have and continue to work with high street retailers to put in place a set of voluntary commitments to prevent the underage sales of knives in their stores and online.

“As part of the Serious Violence Strategy we are supporting Trading Standards through a new Prosecution Fund to help them to take rogue retailers who sell knives to under 18s through the courts. In addition our proposed Offensive Weapons Bill will also introduce legislation that will make it harder than ever for young people to purchase knives.”


Top: By law, knives retailers should check that consumers are 18 before selling kitchen knives. The image of knives is courtesy of leading Australian premium brand, Furi.

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