Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Shopkeepers Flout Law on Selling Blades

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Shopkeepers Flout Law on Selling Blades

Article excerpt

Byline: MARTIN BENTHAM

LARGE numbers of shopkeepers are flouting the law by selling knives to underage children and virtually all are escaping prosecution, it was revealed today.

In one trading standards operation in London, a third of retailers sold blades ranging from steak knives to carving knives to a 15-year-old girl.

At the same time, the Liberal Democrats released figures from a survey of similar operations carried out by 56 councils nationwide showing juveniles were able to buy knives

in nearly 30 per cent of cases.

Between 1997 and 2004 only 11 shopkeepers were prosecuted in London for selling a knife to a child aged under 16. All were fined rather than jailed.

Nationally, only 50 prosecutions were brought and only one shopkeeper was jailed. Over the same

over the sameperiod, no prosecutions were brought under legislation banning the publication of material encouraging violent behaviour with a knife.

Similarly, no prosecutions were brought using laws prohibiting the unlawful marketing of a knife.

The Government is facing mounting calls for action in response to a wave of stabbings across Britain. Cases include the killing of schoolboy Kiyan Prince in Edgware and of

police volunteer Nisha Patel-Nasri.

Yesterday, a 19-year-old sales assistant was attacked at a shop in Wood Green.

Home Secretary John Reid is considering introducing a new mandatory sentence of up to five years for possessing a knife, although he faces claims of a U-turn after it emerged that the Government recently rejected Tory and Liberal Democrat calls for tougher laws.

Today, new evidence of the scale of the problem was provided by the results of a joint operation by Enfield Trading Standards and the Met.

It targeted a range of chain and independent stores over three days using a 15-year-old girl to conduct test purchases. It is illegal to sell blades to under-16s with a maximum fine of [pounds sterling]5,000 or six months in prison.

The girl was able to buy potentially lethal items in most instances without any request for identification, despite signs on packaging warning shop assistants not to sell to children. …

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