Warning Over Teen Knife Sales

1 March 2011, 09:39 | Updated: 8 March 2011, 11:50

Police in Southampton are urging shops to review their staff training for not selling knives to under 18s, after four failed a test purchase operation.

Officers visited six shops across Southampton on Tuesday, February 22, using a teenage volunteer to enter each of the shops to purchase a bladed implement. In each of the four shops, the sales assistant failed to check the age of the customer or ask for ID. This led to two large carving knives, a Stanley knife and an axe being purchased illegally.

If asked, the volunteer is not permitted to lie about their age and will not produce any ID.

Sarah Badham who organised the test purchase operation said: “It is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under the age of 18 years old and those making the sale should ask to see identification if they are unsure of a purchaser’s age. Although retailers generally do train their staff in under age sales, these operations provide us with the opportunity to ensure that staff is up to date and they are putting their training into practice to comply with legislation and to prevent them from committing an offence and having to deal with the potential consequences.”

Anyone selling a knife to an underage person is in law responsible and the penalty can be a fine up to £5,000 and six month prison sentence. 

Ms Badham added: “We regularly run test purchasing operations throughout the year and we endeavour to visit every shop selling bladed implements at least once. It is not our intention to deliberately catch people out, we just want to make sure that illegal knife sales are not being made and to ensure that retailers provide adequate training for their staff.”

Three of the four retailers who failed the test purchase operation were in the city centre while the other was in a city suburb.