Three shops in Stoke-on-Trent are under investigation after selling knives to a 15-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl.
The retailers in Hanley and Stoke were caught breaking the law during a Stoke-on-Trent City Council trading standards operation yesterday (Thurs), as part of Operation Sceptre – a national operation and week of activity aimed at reducing knife crime and increasing awareness about the dangers of carrying knives.
The test purchase operation involved sending two underage volunteers into a total of nine shops to see if they could buy knives. It is illegal to sell knives to anyone under the age of 18.
While six of the shops visited correctly refused sale, the children were able to buy a Stanley knife and two utility knives from three retailers without being asked for identification. The shops have been notified and investigations have been launched. All the traders had previously been sent an advice letter and poster to remind them not to sell knives to underage people and to tell them that test purchasing would be taking place.
Cllr Randy Conteh, the city council’s cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “The results of the test purchase operation are disappointing, especially coming during a high-profile, week-long operation to tackle the issue of knife crime.
“It’s absolutely vital that retailers in the city have measures in place to prevent underage sales of knives. Retailers of all sizes need to make sure their staff are properly trained to prevent knives getting into the hands of children.
“This is the third year we have supported Operation Sceptre as we recognise its importance in keeping our communities safe. We are committed to working with organisations such as Staffordshire Police to combat the problem of knife crime, and will be taking appropriate action against the retailers who failed the operation.”
Operation Sceptre is a week-long operation, supported by police forces across the country, to educate young people about knife crime and deter them from carrying knives when out and about. Neighbourhood policing teams have been visiting schools and colleges to educate young people on the dangers and consequences of carrying knives.
Superintendent Ricky Fields, strategic lead for knife crime at Staffordshire Police, said: “The work by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s trading standards team shines a welcome light on those retailers willing to ignore the law. To continue this good work we will be working with partners to enhance standards and training in stores across the city to prevent knives falling into the wrong hands.”
For all media enquiries please contact the press office at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232987.