October 19, 2019

Underage children sold knives dozens of times in supermarket tests | UK News


Asda and Tesco have been found to sell knives to under-18s in new data from National Trading Standards.

The two supermarkets were found, alongside Poundland and Home Bargains, as having sold knives to underage children at least 15 times each during test purchases carried out from April 2018 until the end of March this year.

Tesco and Asda have further restricted their knife sales since the tests were carried out, while Poundland says it is “baffled” by the figures, as it stopped selling kitchen knives in October 2018.

Home Bargains has been approached for comment.

Kitchen knives for sale in an Asda store in London, as the supermarket chain has vowed to remove single kitchen knives from sale at all its stores by the end of April, amid rising fears over their use in fatal stabbings.
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Knives on sale at Asda before they took them off the shelves

Trading Standards teams in England and Wales carried out 2,231 tests in national chains and independent shops over the course of the year, and found staff failed to prevent the sale of knives to children on 344 occasions, the equivalent of 15%.

They also carried out 100 online tests and found children were able to purchase knives on 41 occasions.

Chairman of National Trading Standards Lord Toby Harris said: “Restricting the sale of knives to children is clearly a difficult issue for retailers, especially those with large numbers of outlets, staff and delivery partners, and 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.”

Lord Harris asked stores to consider whether they need to sell knives and if they could do so by keeping them in a locked cabinet, as with cigarettes.

Figures published in April show police in England and Wales recorded 40,829 offences with knives or sharp objects, the highest rate since comparable data started in 2010/11.

Lord Toby Harris holds a copy of his independent review of London's Preparedness to Respond to a Major Terrorist Incident, during a tour of a Special Operations Room in London, as the review has warned Britain's borders are not as secure as they should be.
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Lord Toby Harris said stores should consider if they need to sell knives

A spokesman for Asda said: “In April 2019, we became the first retailer to remove all single knives from sale across our stores to help ensure that they do not fall into the wrong hands.

“Whilst we are clearly disappointed with the results from a small number of cases between April 2018 and March 2019, we would like to reassure customers that we have since provided updated training for colleagues and have clear Challenge 25 policies in place to ensure we meet all our responsibilities as a retailer.”

Tesco said it made changes, including keeping single kitchen knives in locked cabinets in larger stores and requiring two members of staff to check a customer’s age.

The new policies will be rolled out to all knives later this year. The chain’s Express and Metro stores do not sell knives, and they can’t be bought online.

Tesco UK and Ireland chief executive Jason Tarry said: “Tesco takes the safety of our colleagues, customers, and the communities we serve very seriously, and we have made significant changes to our approach to displaying and selling knives, without taking choice away from customers, including a new two-stage age verification process and removing knives from display on the shop floor.”

Poundland will stop selling knives by the end of October
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Poundland stopped selling knives at the end of October

A spokesman for Poundland said: “As this body is aware, we’re baffled by their numbers.

“They know we stopped selling kitchen knives completely in all our 850 stores last year.”

The Local Government Association has already warned that funding for test purchase operations is running out.

Councils’ trading standards teams are also concerned that they do not have resources they need to enforce a ban on selling knives and corrosives online to under-18s.

Council teams will have new responsibilities for test purchases at the point of delivery for online knife sales and for enforcing restrictions on sales of acids and corrosives.

Trading standards said that in 2018 B&M was ordered to pay £480,000 in fines and £12,428 in costs after selling knives to children.

In July 2019 Tool Supplies UK Limited of Heswell, Wirral, and Inifer Potter and Son Ltd of Hockley in Essex were fined £8,000 and each was ordered to pay costs of more than £2,000.



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