KNIVES were sold to youngsters at over 50 shops in Warwickshire, an undercover operation has revealed.
Under-18s working with Warwickshire County Council’s (WCC) Trading Standards Service were able to buy sharp knives at one of every five retailers they visited – without being asked for identification.
Some 54 shops in Rugby, Leamington, Warwick, Stratford, Atherstone, Nuneaton and Bedworth were caught out by the operation.
They were all given advice on preventing the sale of knives to children – including checking the identification of anyone who appears to be under 25.
But three of the retailers, in Warwick, Nuneaton and Bedworth, still sold knives to under-age volunteers when they returned – committing a criminal offence in the process.
WCC community safety spokesman Coun Andy Crump said retailers had an obligation to tackle knife crime by preventing blades falling in to the hands of young people.
He said: “I’m delighted the majority of our retailers are taking their responsibilities seriously and asking for age identification.
“However, a 20 per cent failure rate is too high and this is why our Trading Standards Service has been providing advice and guidance to retailers.”
Retailers are advised to introduce the ‘Challenge 25’ policy, train staff to ask for proof of age, keep knives locked away, and put up posters to dissuade youngsters from trying to purchase knives.
Retailers who sell knives to children could face prosecution, potentially facing up to six months imprisonment and a £5,000 fine.
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards for more information about the work of Trading Standards.