Testing traders’ knowledge of, and adherence to, the law where the sale of knives is concerned is a key tool of Croydon Council’s trading standards team in combating the capital-wide problem of knife crime.
Figures published by London Trading Standards show children as young as 13 continue to be sold knives across the capital. It is illegal to sell knives to anyone under 18.
Monday, the first day of London Trading Standards Week is focused on reducing the number of knives sold to children. The key message is – helping prevent people being killed through knife crime.
So far this year, 315 test purchases have been carried out by 18 London trading standards departments and the Metropolitan Police, using child volunteers aged between 12 and 17.
The vast majority of shops visited refused to sell, but 50 sales were made, and a variety of knives and bladed articles, including kitchen knives, utility knives, razor blades and cleavers were sold to children.
Croydon’s programme of test-purchasing exercises has seen a number of successful prosecutions of traders caught breaking the law by selling bladed items to under-age customers.
In recent months, Shakeb Hakime, of Norbury Discount Store, London Road, was sentenced to 10 weeks’ jail, suspended for 12 months, after admitting selling a five-piece knives and scissors set to two 15-year-olds.
He was also ordered to perform 100 hours’ community service, and to pay costs of £7,144.00, and a victim surcharge of £80.
Sentencing, District Judge Rana said: “Mr Hakime, as a shopkeeper, has a personal responsibility to prevent the sale of items to under-18s, and to ensure that his staff are properly trained.
“Knives are extremely dangerous to those who are under 18. A custodial sentence is justified.”
London Trading Standards is now working to support more responsible retailing of knives, encouraging knife retailers to adopt a Challenge 25 policy, already in operation in Croydon, which warns customers to expect to be challenged if they appear to be under 25 years of age.
Croydon is also asking retailers to take the practical step of keeping knives behind the counter, or in secure cabinets, enabling staff to control sales more easily, and for the opportunity for theft to be reduced.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
“London Trading Standards Week will be driving home a range of important issues, the first of which is knife crime.
“Sadly, this type of crime is on the rise in London, which is why we must do all we can to keep potentially lethal blades of all kinds out of the hands of those young people who feel compelled to carry them.
“Traders have a heavy duty of responsibility here, and should take every step to ensure that they and their staff don’t help knives to get into the wrong hands.”
Launched this week is a new short film, available on YouTube, of a London Trading Standards Operation Sceptre day which also features an example of responsible retailing. Sceptre is a police initiative aimed at reducing knife crime and reducing the number families affected by knife crime.
Anyone with information about shops that sell age-restricted products to children can report it anonymously via the London Trading Standards reporting tool at www.londontradingstandards.org.uk