Two Lower Addiscombe Road hardware traders felt the sharp edge of the law when they appeared before Croydon magistrates on Tuesday (23) to admit the selling of craft knives and craft knife blades to under-age customers.
Prior to these offences, the individual owners of Discount Stores and Finch Hardware & DIY had entered into Responsible Retailer Agreements, concerning the sale of knives, with local police. Additionally, Discount Stores had declined the offer, from Croydon Council’s trading standards team, of free training in the sale of age-restricted goods.
Both stores were part of a test-purchasing exercise, conducted by TS officers and the police on 17 February, which saw two 15-year-old girls attempt to buy knives and blades in five shops.
In Discount Stores, the girls selected a pack containing six craft knives priced at £2.29. The sales assistant failed to enquire after the girls’ ages because the knives’ packaging did not have the red sticker that the store’s owner, Navid Lund, had told her indicated that the goods should not be sold to anybody under the age of 18.
In interview, Lund agreed that neither he, nor any staff members, had taken up the invitation to attend the TS Do You Pass? training, despite it being free of charge, and explained that the knife pack had not carried the red dot because no more had been bought when the last of the previous consignment had been used.
Lund was fined £660 and ordered to pay costs of £1,839 and a victim surcharge of £66.
From Finch Hardware & DIY, the girls asked for, and were given, a pack of craft knife blades. Again, neither identification nor proof of age were requested, and the girls paid for the goods and left the shop.
TS officers spoke to the owner, Ramesh Halai, who explained that the sale had been made by his father, who helped out in the store when needed. Lalji Halai, the owner’s father, said that he had intended to ask the girls’ ages but thought they looked over 18.
In interview, Ramesh Halai told officers that, since the incident, a number of notices had been placed on permanent display in the shop informing staff and customers of the need to present ID, and about the sale of age-restricted products. He had also instigated a comprehensive training regime for his staff.
The bench told Halai that, because of the remorse shown, and the measures subsequently taken, the financial penalty imposed on Finch Hardware & DIY Ltd was less than it would otherwise have been. The company was fined £295 and ordered to pay costs of £1,839 and a victim surcharge of £30.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
“It’s concerning that, in spite of a general awareness of the problems of knife crime, and publicity aimed at the retail community about the need to check the age and identification of would-be purchasers, our officers are continuing to find instances of these illegal sales to young people.
“Traders have to realise their responsibility to society and the important role they can play in reducing the availability of these items, to young men in particular, who are more likely to carry a knife.
“Our trading standards officers do a great job in bringing offenders to book, but they won’t be happy until such test-purchasing exercises routinely fail to find any Croydon traders acting in ignorance of the law.”
Do You Pass? retailer training sessions are available, free of charge, to small and medium-sized Croydon-based businesses, helping traders to understand the law and their age-related sales obligations.
Each session runs for approximately two hours and 45 minutes, and includes a 30-minute multiple-choice exam. The next sessions will be held on Thursday 27 October, in Bernard Weatherill House, Mint Walk, Croydon.
To book a place, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8407 1311.