High Street Giants Illegally Selling Knives To Children

29 August 2019, 10:42

Asda, Tesco, Home Bargains and Poundland were among the offending stores
Asda, Tesco, Home Bargains and Poundland were among the offending stores. Picture: PA

Asda, Tesco, Home Bargains and Poundland were among the high street retailers found to be illegally selling knives to children during mystery shopper investigations.

National Trading Standards deployed mystery shoppers below the age of 18 to undertake test purchases and found the stores sold them at least 15 blades each between April 2018 and March 2019.

The investigation, funded by the Home Office, saw 2,231 tests carried out across the year with the government now encouraging shops to act swiftly to prevent further offences.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse said: "I am deeply concerned to see some retailers are breaking the law. I expect them to take urgent action to stop young people from getting hold of knives in the first place.”

Kit Malthouse said he was "deeply concerned" about retailers breaking the law
Kit Malthouse said he was "deeply concerned" about retailers breaking the law. Picture: PA

Tesco and Asda have responded by updating checks and adding more restrictions to sales.

Poundland said that it had stopped selling knives to children last year, but Home Bargains has not yet commented.

Of the 2,231 tests, staff sold the potential weapons to under 18s on 344 occasions, the equivalent of 15%.

Online retailers were worse, selling children blades 41 times out of 100 test purchases, however some online shops do refuse to deliver knives to young people without identification.

Fatal stabbings are at their highest level since records began
Fatal stabbings are at their highest level since records began. Picture: PA

It comes as the Office for National Statistics revealed in February that fatal stabbings are at their highest level since records began in 1946.

There were 285 killings by knives or sharp objects in the 12 months preceding March 2018, with a quarter of fatalities being men aged between 18-24 and those convicted most likely being between 16-24.

Lord Toby Harris, chairman of National Trading Standards, said: "I am aware that many retailers are working incredibly hard to train staff and introduce robust procedures to stem the flow of knives to children.

"But let's be clear - it's illegal to sell a knife to a child. Our tests show that it's still too easy for a child to buy a knife."

B&M was made to pay £480,000 in fines in 2018 and more than £12,000 in costs after selling knives to children.

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