Underage sales

Knife charter for retailers

Responsible retailer agreement on knife sales

In 2006, our unique knife charter was launched as part of a campaign to help keep knives off local streets and reduce knife crime. At that time, knives could be sold to anyone over 16 years old, but the law changed a year later to restrict sales to over 18s.

The initiative was linked to a joint 'lives not knives' campaign run by Southwark News and the Safer Southwark Partnership.

Some 55 retailers were signatories to the charter. They committed to making Southwark a safer place for everyone by promoting the responsible retailing of knives and preventing illegal underage sales of knives to young people.

Compliance rates for our underage test purchasing exercises have increased from 42% in 2005 to 2006 to over 80% in 2018 to 2022.

Our initiative was highlighted as successful best practice in a report on knife crime from the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee in 2009 and the government launched a similar campaign with national retailers.   

In September 2019 London Trading Standards launched the London Responsible Retailer Agreement on the Safe Storage and Sale of Knives (RRA) in partnership with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) and the Metropolitan Police Service.

Following the COVID-19 emergency, the London RRA scheme was relaunched in October 2021.

To ensure consistency across the capital our existing Charter members will be invited to sign up to the new scheme and the Southwark Knife Charter is discontinued.

Responsible Retailer Agreement (RRA) on knife sales

The RRA urges businesses and staff to:

  • understand the basic requirements for the safe storage of knives
  • follow the ASSESS-CHALLENGE-CHECK process for selling age-restricted goods
  • know when and how to contact police with suspicions of knife crime or where staff feel threatened by customers

The RRA Good Practice Guide and free staff training resources are all included in a knife retailer toolkit which can be downloaded from the National Business Crime website.

In addition, there are five short animated training modules available to complete covering storage, display, sale and delivery of knives.

If you are a knife retailer and wish to sign up to the RRA please contact us

Page last updated: 27 July 2022

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