Knives Sold to Under 18s

West Yorkshire Police are reminding shop-keepers that it is illegal to sell knives to under 18s*.

The knives purchased

The warning comes after the Force, working with underage cadet volunteers carried out 23 test purchase operations in small, medium and large sized stores.

Out of the shops tested, 7 failed by selling knives to the cadets.

The test purchase operations were part of a national week of action the Force supported against knife crime which took place last week.

And the Force is warning that future test purchase operations will be carried out in the near future and if stores fail the test then enforcement action will be taken against them.

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Gibson is West Yorkshire Police’s Operational Knife Crime Lead.

He said:

“In the wrong hands knives are a potentially lethal weapon. As a senior detective I have seen first-hand the tragic consequences knife crime can have in our communities.

“It is disappointing therefore that stores sold knives to the young people. The knives sold were mainly large kitchen knives that could easily kill someone.

“The communities we serve in West Yorkshire have told us they want to see action taken to combat knife crime.

“We have always taken knife crime seriously but recognise that there is increasing community concern about this issue.

“It is important therefore to stop knives falling into the wrong hands – and that is particularly so where young people are concerned.

“Of the shops that failed all of them were small outlets. All of the larger stores that were tested passed.

“The law could not be clearer – it is illegal to sell a knife to anyone who us under 18*.

“We had publicly stated before we carried out these test purchase operations that we would be doing so – to see so many knives sold to those under the age was therefore even more disappointing.

“On this occasion the point of the exercise was to educate shopkeepers about their responsibilities rather than carry out enforcement activity. We therefore spoke to the shop-keepers and passed on literature about what we were doing and why.

“We will, however, be carrying out future test purchase operations without warning.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those responsible shop keepers who passed the test.”

The week of action to tackle knife crime also included PCSOs and cadets travelling on the bus network to speak to people about the dangers of knife crime.

The ‘Trojan’ bus also visited parts of Leeds to help tackle anti social behaviour

DCI Gibson added

“I would like to thank the cadets in particular who helped our operation and made a real difference.”


*It is illegal to sell the following to under 18s:

A Knife, knife blade, razor blade, any axe or any other article which has a blade or sharply pointed and which is made or adapted for causing injury

The only exceptions are a folding pocket knife with a cutting edge of a blade not greater than 3inch (76mm) or a razor blade permanently enclosed in a cartridge where less than 2mm of the blade is exposed (disposable razor or replacement cartridge heads).

The Law applies to the sales person and the business owner and both could be prosecuted

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