Trading Standards tackle underage knife sales

4 October 2017

Officers from Southwark Council Trading Standards took part in a London wide police operation to highlight the need for retailers to ‘Challenge 25’ when it comes to knife sales.

This activity formed part of a London Trading Standards awareness day focused on sales of knives to under-18s. A video, filmed in Southwark, detailing the operation can be viewed online.

So far this year across London, out of 315 test purchases, 50 sales were made to volunteers aged between 13 and 17. These sales included a variety of knives, including kitchen knives, utility knives, razor blades and cleavers.

Over the past five years the local compliance rate in Southwark has been 77 per cent and knife retailers can sign up to a local partnership scheme which encourages responsible retailing.  Since the scheme began in 2006 some 58 businesses have signed up.

The scheme also stipulates that businesses must operate a ‘Challenge 25’ policy, meaning that if a customer looks under 25 and is attempting to buy knives, the retailer must always ask for suitable proof of age.

Alongside spot checks and enforcement, Southwark Council also recognises that education and engaging with young people is also a vital to tackling knife crime.

Southwark Youth Council identified knife crime as one of their key concerns for young people in the borough and will help support the Southwark Council response to knife crime. The voices of young people must be heard when we talk about knife crime and the council will be actively involving the youth council as it implements the Knife Crime and Knife Carrying Action Plan.

Cllr Barrie Hargrove, Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Communities, Safety and Leisure said: “Sadly we all know of the devastation that knife crime can bring to families and communities and all too often we see news reports of young lives lost to such violence. This is why we must continue to work with the Mayors Office, the Met, retailers and Trading Standards to stamp out knife crime.

“Spot checks, such as those demonstrated by Southwark Trading Standards, of retailers are so important to keeping knives out of children’s hands. Thankfully, the majority of Southwark retailers are responsible but there is always work to do.

“We know that challenging retail practices is not the sole answer to dealing with knife crime but we must do everything in our power to prevent young people getting hold of knives in the first place. I would strongly reiterate the Mayor’s messages that carrying a knife is more likely to ruin your life than save it.”

Last updated: 04 October 2017