Press releases

Trading standards welcomes knife law’s keener edge

Trading Standards officers have welcomed the change in the law that makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to be sold knives.

The change comes into force in England and Wales on Monday 01 October and follows years of concerted campaigning by the Trading Standards Institute.

Test purchases conducted by officers had exposed shops selling to children as young as 13, not least the sale of a potentially lethal butchers clever in Northamptonshire.

And a major survey conducted by the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) last year revealed that more than a quarter of shops were selling knives illegally to children aged under 16.

But the campaign, coupled with growing disquiet in the wake of an increasing number of high-profile incidents involving knives wielded by under 18s, has culminated in the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006.

Brandon Cook, TSI spokesman on under-age sales, said: "Year after year we have highlighted the problem of under-age sales, particularly of dangerous items, such as knives.

"'We have actively supported raising the age for purchasing a knife from 16 to 18 and are delighted that the government has taken action."

The change in the law is complemented by stiff penalties for selling knives to anyone who is under-age: businesses and staff can face a fine of up to £5,000 or six months in prison.

Although delighted by raising of the age limit, Trading Standards officers remain concerned that youngsters may be able to circumvent the new law and buy knives over the internet.

In addition, officers stress that parents must play their part in ensuring that children cannot obtain knives from domestic sources.

Mr Cook added: "There is an urgent need for the Government to establish how to improve the control of the sales of age-restricted goods, especially knives, over the internet.

"It has already been done with air weapons, which can only be sold on a face-to-face basis.

"Young people can also get hold of potentially lethal knives from other sources, including their own homes. Parents should be vigilant and to warn their children of the dangers of carrying knives."

Further information from the TSI press Office on 0870 872 9030

Notes to editors

The law on selling knives:

The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 makes it illegal to sell a person under the age of 18 a knife, knife blade, razor blade, axe or any other article with a blade.

Businesses and staff can face a fine of up to £5,000 or six months in prison for illegally selling a knife to a person who is under age.

How retailers can guard against selling age-restricted goods to anyone who is not old enough:

TSI advises retailers that they should check the age and identity of anyone asking to buy age-restricted products who does not appear to be old enough. For example, TSI supports all 'PASS' accredited proof of age card schemes.

The voluntary Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) was launched in February 2003 as a British Retail Consortium Initiative supported by ministers from the Home Office and DfES, in partnership with the Trading Standards Institute.

Using a common format and logo, the scheme allows store holders and shop workers to know that any card presented to them bearing that logo has met the standards of PASS and contains accurate and reliable information to base a decision on whether to allow a purchase.

The scheme has an umbrella accreditation scheme where the TSI, acting as auditor, evaluates the procedures of card issuers. Once approved, the card issuer is granted a PASS logo to display on the cards.

The 'Challenge 21' initiative advises that, as an added precaution, retailers ask for proof of age from anyone who appears to be 21 or under.

In Scotland the age for selling non-domestic knives was raised to 18 in 2006

Trading Standards Institute

The Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.

Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.

TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to 2 million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.

They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.

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Consumer Direct is a Government-backed telephone and online consumer advice service which works in partnership with Local Authority Trading Standards. It provides clear, practical and impartial advice and information to help consumers resolve problems and disagreements with suppliers of goods and services. Consumer Direct is available from 0800-1830 Monday to Friday, and 0900-1300 Saturday, excluding bank and public holidays.

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