Merton Council clamps down on illegal knife sales

Merton Council won two cases against shop assistants selling knives to children under the age of 18 last week (Friday 12 June), the same day as knife victim Ben Kinsella’s killers were jailed for life.

Wimbledon Magistrates Court ruled against Mrs Lai Khee Lam at Tesco, New Malden, after she admitted to selling a bread knife to two 15-year-old girls. She was fined £100 and ordered to pay £250 costs. Mr Sami Rafi working at Pound Value, Morden, was found guilty of selling a seven-inch kitchen knife to a 15-year-old, and was fined £250 and ordered to pay £450 costs.

The prosecutions follow a knife test purchase operation in the borough organised by Merton Council’s trading standards officers in October 2008. The teams tackling illegal knife crime visited 17 businesses in total. Four unlawful sales were made in total. In addition to the two prosecutions, two more are pending court proceedings. Volunteer police cadets aged between 14 and 16 years helped with the operation, posing as youngsters wanting to buy the knives.

Merton Council continues to work closely with local businesses as part of its initiative to clamp down on illegal knife sales. Prior to the test purchasing exercise, the council’s trading standards officers visited all outlets in the borough selling knives to make sure retailers were aware that it is against the law to sell them to people under 18. Officers also gave shopkeepers guidance packs on how to prevent the illegal sale of knives.

Merton Council cabinet member for environment and leisure services, Cllr David Simpson, said: “We take these offences very seriously. There is nowhere to hide for people behaving irresponsibly and selling knives illegally. Knife crime is at the forefront of all our minds at the moment, particularly as Ben Kinsella’s killers were jailed for life on the very same day as these prosecutions. We always want to put our residents first, and successful operations like this help towards keeping our young people safe and serve as a warning that people need to be very careful about who they sell to. Otherwise, it could cost them their job and will certainly hurt their pocket.”

Merton Council cabinet member for Community Safety and Engagement, Cllr Henry Nelless said: ‘Although we are one of the safest boroughs in London, we are continually working towards a safer Merton and practical operations like this resulting in successful prosecutions make absolutely clear that we will not tolerate illegal knife sales.’