Every one of 28 shops visited as part of a trading standards knife sales test purchase operation refused to sell to underage volunteers.
During a week-long operation in Newcastle and Stafford, underage volunteers working with the trading standards team were refused sales when they tried to buy knives. Seventeen shops were visited in Stafford and 11 in Newcastle. The team is supporting Operation Sceptre – an initiative to combat knife crime being led by Staffordshire Police.
It follows a countywide test purchase operation earlier this year where there were some failures. Trading standards officers have since visited the shops which failed or contacted 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 communities leader Gill Heath said:
We are very pleased with the high levels of compliance which demonstrate that Staffordshire traders take their responsibilities seriously. We are confident the trading standards advice and support interventions after the failings earlier this year have had an effect, in addition to the high profile nature of the operation.
This gives us all reassurances that these businesses are playing their part in making Staffordshire a safer place.
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.”
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.
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.”