Shops have been warned to check youngsters’ ages after two out the five stores visited during a recent test-purchasing exercise sold knives to teenage girls.
It is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under the age of 18, however, during the exercise carried out by the council’s Trading Standards team last week, two of the stores visited in Leighton Buzzard, Dunstable and Houghton Regis sold knives to the 16 and 17-year-old volunteers.
The joint exercise took place after Bedfordshire Police highlighted an issue with knife-related instances in Dunstable and Houghton Regis, and following complaints received by the council’s Community Safety team.
One of the two stores caught selling the knives may now face further enforcement action.
Councillor Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Community Services, said: “Exercises like these are not set up to trap stores, but instead to check that they are following the law around not selling knives to children.
“The rules are very clear that it is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under 18. If you think that they are then ask for ID, and if they don’t have any then don’t sell them the knife. That way you will rule out the risk of anyone getting into trouble.”
Sgt Craig Gurr, of Bedfordshire Police’s licensing team, said: “Knives can be incredibly dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands, so it’s vital that legislation around selling them is maintained.
“Tackling knife crime is a key priority for Bedfordshire Police and test purchases such as these are crucial in helping to ensure that the law is maintained and that young people do not have access to knives which they could potentially use as a weapon.”
> For more information about legal age limits, visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/local-business/trading-standards/trading-standards-under-age-sales.aspx