1 in 3 businesses in Lancashire fail test purchases

Lancashire Trading Standards have been busy undertaking test purchases for knives across the county last week as part of Operation Sceptre.

Operation Sceptre is an operation focussing on knife crime. Test purchasing, a method used by the police and Trading Standards officers to help prevent illegal underage sales, is just one area that contributes to this important area of work.

Working with Lancashire Constabulary colleagues and a crack team of 13 volunteer young people aged between 13 years and 16 years, 77 shops were visited.  The young people attempted to buy knives and bladed articles in businesses in every district across Lancashire.  A total of 24 knives were sold to the volunteers.

Like alcohol, tobacco and vapes, knives are an age-restricted product, and it is against the law to sell them to persons under the age of 18 years.

The sale of a knife or bladed article to persons under the age of 18 years is a criminal offence, with both shop employees and business owners potentially facing a maximum 6-month prison sentence, and businesses could face an unlimited fine in the magistrates' court.

The young people were able to purchase a variety of knives, ranging from 'Stanley' knives to kitchen knives obtained from different types of shops including hardware and corner shops.

County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for Health & Wellbeing at Lancashire County Council, said:

"I was able to accompany our trading standards team in many of the districts during the week and was appalled to see 1 in 3 businesses selling knives and bladed articles to teenagers aged 13 to 16.

"Our trading standards team will work with the businesses to make sure this doesn’t happen again.  We don’t want to see businesses fail and trading standards will work with these businesses to get it right, every time in the future.

"We operate a 'Check 25' policy in Lancashire and all retailers should be checking the age of anyone appearing to be under the age of 25 when buying a knife."

County Councillor Green added: "The consequences of selling knives can be fatal, and knife crime has devastating effects on victims, families and communities.

"Let me be clear – knives have no place on our streets – and Lancashire County Council is committed to working with the police to tackle this issue and to promote the wellbeing of young people in Lancashire.

"If anyone suspects that a shop may be breaking the law, please report the business anonymously by phoning Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133."

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