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Gill Heath
Cllr Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Communities and the Environment

Vast majority of Burton shops demonstrate responsible knife sales

Burton traders are demonstrating community responsibility by carrying out necessary checks when selling knives, a county council test purchase operation has found.

County council communities leader Gill Heath said responsible knife sales are vital for community safety in Staffordshire.

The operation in Burton on April 17 saw underage volunteers working with the county council’s trading standards team. They were only able to buy a knife in one out of a total of 12 shops visited.

It followed a previous exercises carried out in Stafford and Newcastle where 10 shops sold knives to underage volunteers out of 25 visited.

In the coming weeks, trading standards officers will be visiting shops 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.

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 hugely encouraging that ion Burton just one of the 12 shops visited sold a knife to one of our underage volunteers. This demonstrates responsible trading by the vast majority of shops in the town which is good news for the community.

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.

Clearly knife crime is a concern for everyone, though fortunately Staffordshire remains a place where incidents are rare.”

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.”