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Staffordshire County Council’s communities leader Gill Heath

Vast majority of Cannock shops demonstrate responsible knife sales

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

The operation in Cannock on September 16 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 9 shops visited.

It followed previous exercises carried out in Stafford and Newcastle-under-Lyme in 2018 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 in Cannock just one of the 9 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 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:

“It is illegal to sell knives to under 18s and it is vital that retailers continue to play their part in not selling them to children. We are working with partners, such as local authorities and others, to understand the motives young people have for carrying knives.

“We have launched our ‘Ditch the Blade’ campaign, which includes a video featuring well-known faces, encouraging young people not to carry knives. It highlights the difference everyone can make in tackling knife crime.”