A recent test purchase survey, carried out as part of Knife Crime Awareness Week activity by North Yorkshire County Council, found that eight out of ten retailers sold knives to a 16-year old.
Legislation states that buyers must be over 18 to buy a knife but, despite this, on three occasions a 16-year-old volunteer was able to purchase a knife from retail premises. The sale rate increased when attempting online purchases, with five North Yorkshire retailers selling to the volunteer.
The volunteer child helpers who assist Trading Standards have strict rules to follow. They are instructed to tell the truth at all times and to provide identification showing their true age if asked. Online retailers have an obligation to maintain age verification processes to ensure sales of knives are only to those over 18.
Councillor Andrew Lee, the council’s executive member for growth, planning and trading standards, said: “Retailers have an important role to play in ensuring our young people cannot access potentially dangerous products and we urge North Yorkshire retailers to comply with their legal and social obligations.’’
A criminal offence is committed if age-restricted products are sold to minors. Trading Standards is inviting retailers to work with them to achieve a new Responsible Retailer award, which recognises those who follow under-age sales legislation. Officers will work with participating outlets to introduce an effective age verification policy and to help to train staff.
For more information on the Responsible Retailer scheme, call David Miller on 01609 534 810.