26% of East Anglia’s shops fail to check age of young people buying knives

Local trading standards say they are providing advice to businesses . Stock image. Picture: KATIE CO

Local trading standards say they are providing advice to businesses . Stock image. Picture: KATIE COLLINS/PRESS ASSOCIATION - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Some stores in East Anglia are not carrying out age checks on young people wanting to buy knives, according to a survey.

Research carried out by the retail age checking company Serve Legal found that young people were able to buy a knife in 26% of the 321 stores checked in the region, the same percentage as in the 2,357 stores checked nationally. without a proof of age.

It’s illegal to sell knives to under-18s in England. A number of major retailers have also entered into a voluntary agreement to make sure under-18s cannot buy knives, including checking for age identification, reminding customers that they are age restricted products and training staff.

The figures come amid concerns about a rise in knife crime.

The data published by the Office for National Statistics showed 39,598 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument were recorded in 2017, a 22% increase compared with the previous year.

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Ed Heaver, director of Serve Legal, said: “Our latest retail test data reveals that despite the principles of the government’s voluntary agreement on underage sales, which many retailers have agreed to adhere to, complacency on the high street could well be contributing to a deadly societal problem, with knives being sold to young people in plain sight.”

A spokesperson for Suffolk Trading Standards said: “Suffolk Trading Standards is continuing to provide advice and support to businesses, for example on challenge 25 policies, acceptable forms of ID, and maintaining refusal and staff training logs.

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“We urge anyone that suspects underage knife sales to contact Suffolk Trading Standards on: 03454 040506. Businesses can contact Suffolk Trading Standards on: 01473 264859 if they would like additional support or advice.”

A spokesperson for Essex Trading Standards said:“Essex Trading Standards works very hard to reduce underage sales of age related products and knife related test purchases are one of our top priority underage sales category types.

“In 2017/18, of the attempted test purchases conducted by Essex Trading Standards, 88% refused to sell to our underage test purchaser .

“Whilst we are pleased with this level of refusal we are not complacent and continue to work with all relevant partners in order to drive down the incidents of all underage sales.”

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