A retailer was caught breaking the law during a Stoke-on-Trent City Council Trading Standards operation yesterday (September 19), as part of Staffordshire Police’s Operation Sceptre.
The test purchase operation involved sending two underage volunteers into a total of 13 shops to see if they could buy knives. It is illegal to sell knives to anyone under the age of 18.
While 12 of the shops visited correctly refused sale, the children were able to buy a cheese knife in one retailer without being asked for identification. The shop has been notified and is now being investigated.
All the traders had previously been sent an advice letter and poster to remind them not to sell knives to underage persons and to tell them that test purchasing would be taking place.
Councillor Randy Conteh, the city council’s cabinet member for communities and safer city, said: “The results of the test purchase operation are encouraging and most retailers have been found to be complying with their legal obligations.
“However, it is disappointing that one retailer did make a sale. It’s absolutely vital that retailers in the city have measures in place to prevent underage sales of knives.
“All retailers should ensure their staff are properly trained to prevent knives getting into the hands of children.
“We recognise the importance of supporting Operation Sceptre and the role it plays 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 retailer 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 young people from carrying knives when out and about.
Staffordshire Police Superintendent Ricky Fields said: “It is illegal to sell knives to under 18s and it is vital that retailers continue to play their part in not selling them to children. We are working with partners, such as local authorities and others, to understand the motives young people have for carrying knives.
“We have launched our ‘Ditch the Blade’ campaign this week, which includes a video featuring well-known faces, encouraging young people not to carry knives. It highlights the difference everyone can make in tackling knife crime.”
For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232395 (journalists only).