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Retailers who sell knives to under 18s could be fined up to £1,000,000 under new guidance

Sentencing Guidelines, effective from April, provide for the possibility that large companies could be fined up to £1,000,000 for the sale of a single knife to someone under the age of 18. 

Whilst every alcohol retailer will be familiar with alcohol underage test purchases, Trading Standards are increasingly organising similar enforcement activities concentrating on the sale of knives.

If, as a retailer, you sell cutlery or kitchen knives, you ought to be aware of the enormous risk to your business of failing a test purchase.

It is absolutely imperative that retailers who sell knives protect themselves and the only way to do that is to adopt a robust attitude to due diligence.  As a minimum, all staff must be thoroughly trained in their responsibilities.

Challenge 25 should be adopted (and signage displayed prominently throughout the premises).

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Instructions should be given on how to identify individuals under the age of 25.  If possible, age prompt tills should be in operation at your stores.

Regular refresher training and additional instruction should also be given.  Equally as important, training needs to be adequately recorded for each individual staff member.

Retailers need to take a defensive attitude to this risk and bear in mind that Courts will expect them to demonstrate that they took every reasonable step possible to prevent such sales.  There will be no sympathy for Defendants who have a half-hearted attitude to playing their part in reducing knife crime.

The important simple message is that paying lip service to preventing knife sales won’t get retailers out of the potentially significant consequences of selling a knife to someone under the age of 18.

For further information on this, or related topics, please contact Richard Arnot, Head of  Licensing and Regulatory Law.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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