Merton Council recently took part in a London-wide undercover operation to reveal the extent of illegal knife sales to youngsters under 18 years of age.
Out of 30 test purchases carried out in Merton, four resulted in the illegal sales of knives, which was below the regional average. The council is currently conducting investigations into these sales.
In total 33 councils carried out 799 test purchases between the 20 October and 10 November of which 148 resulted in sales. Most of the knives sold were kitchen knives.
The initiative was developed to encourage retailers to play their part in reducing knife crime through ensuring their staff are properly trained and know the law when it comes to selling knives.
Prior to the test purchasing exercise, trading standards officers from Merton Council visited every outlet in the borough selling knives to make sure the retailers were aware that it is against the law to sell knives to people under 18. Officers also gave shopkeepers guidance packs on how to prevent the illegal sale of knives.
The largest of its kind, this operation was the first to cover a whole region (London). The initiative was carried out by councils across London in partnership with the Metropolitan Police and the volunteer Cadet Corps. Young people from the Cadet Corps volunteered to go into shops and attempt to buy knives as so-called test purchasers.
Merton Council’s cabinet member for regeneration, Councillor Diane Neil Mills said: “We put our residents’ needs first, especially when it comes to their safety. Working in partnership with the police through Safer Merton to reduce the illegal sales of knives and tackle knife crime is a critical part of how we are making Merton a safe place to live and work. This initiative demonstrated that the majority of retailers are aware of the law and do not sell knives to young people under the age of 18. Prior to this regional initiative we have carried out our own test purchasing exercises and provided advice to retailers about knife sales. However, there is no room for complacency as one illegal sale is one too many.”