Action to tackle ‘disappointingly high’ knife sales to under 18s

Trading standards officers are ramping up action to stop knives sold in shops falling into the hands of under-age teenagers.

The Broadway joined a secret shopper operation this week to see first-hand work to monitor pound shops and discount stores that sell kitchen knives, craft knives and razor blades.

It is illegal to sell knives to anyone under the age of 18 and officers are taking proactive action to make retailers aware of their duty to check age.

Anyone attempting to buy a knife that looks under the age of 25 should be asked for ID under the ‘Challenge 25’ scheme.

Trading standards officer Doug Love said: “It is important because these knives may be used in crime.

“I think everyone accepts that some knives used in crimes probably are not bought from shops, but sometimes they will be.”

None of the shops visited during the undercover operation last Thursday sold knives to the 17-year-old volunteer, Jacob Mosha.

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He was briefed by officers that, if asked, he was not to lie about his age or make any attempt to bargain his way into a sale, before walking into shops and attempting to buy packets of kitchen knives.

One of the businesses visited was Value 4 Money home-ware shop in Stroud Green Road, Stroud Green.

Jacob said: “Going in I knew I was going to be told to leave because there was a big sign on the cigarette stall saying ‘Knives will not be sold to people under 18’.

“It was a clear message and it was good that sharp knives weren’t out in the open.

“I waited for the customer in front of me to go and went up and asked for a knife. The shopkeeper made confused noises and asked ‘Really?’ and how old I was.

“I said 17 and he just waved me outside.”

Despite work to train shopkeepers, sale rates to underage volunteers in knife test purchases carried out in Islington remain high at one in four.

Islington Council’s trading standards team, which carried out the operation, is challenging known knife retailers to sign voluntary “Undertaking” agreements to stop selling knives altogether or remove them from open display cabinets.

It comes after a shopkeeper in Islington was convicted of selling knives to a 17-year-old which were used, minutes later, to stab a man seven times.

Islington Council continues to prioritise tackling youth crime following the shocking murders of 15-year-old Alan Cartwright in February and 18-year-old Stefan Appleton in June this year in the borough.

Cllr Paul Convery, Islington’s executive member for community safety, said: “Islington trading standards are concentrating a great deal of effort on minimising knife sales.

“They are very much in the frontline in our fight against knife crime, which remains a key priority for the council.”

* Should all knives be taken off shop shelves and stored in locked cabinets or behind the counter? Email your views to or tweet us @hamandhigh