Retailers continuing to challenge children who attempt to purchase knives

Police have praised retailers across West Sussex for challenging children who attempt to purchase knives from their stores.

Officers have been coordinating test purchasing of knives over the last two years as part of Operation Safety, which aims to provide education and enforcement of knife-related offences.

On Saturday 5 February, police conducted their fourth operation in the Crawley district in the last 12 months.

In April 2021 10 stores were visited; two failed. In August 2021 nine stores were visited; three failed. In November 2021 11 stores were visited; all passed. On 5 February a further 11 stores were visited including all those that had previously failed, and all passed.

Sergeant Scott Walters, of the Operation Safety team, said: “It is a great achievement that retailers in the Crawley area are taking responsibility around age-related products seriously and are consistently challenging our police cadets who attempt to buy knives under our supervision.

“This success is not limited to Crawley; we are also seeing similar trends in Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Horsham, Worthing and Mid Sussex.

“It is vital that this trend continues in order for everyone – not just under 18s – to realise the devastating consequences knife crime can have.”

The penalty for selling a knife to a child can be anything from an unlimited fine to six months’ imprisonment. This includes online retailers.

The maximum penalty for an adult carrying a knife is four years in prison and an unlimited fine. Anyone convicted of carrying a knife more than once will face a prison term.

It is illegal to possess a banned knife or weapon. It is also illegal to:

  • bring into the UK, sell, hire, lend or give someone a banned knife or weapon
  • carry any knife in public without good reason, unless it has a manual folding blade less than 3 inches long
  • sell a knife to anyone under the age of 18, unless it has a manual folding blade less than 3 inches long
  • use any knife in a threatening way

Sgt Walters added: “The cadets reported having an enjoyable day supporting our combined effort to prevent underage sales and reducing knives getting onto our streets. This would not be possible without the support of the cadet leaders and Neighbourhood Youth Officers, who are key to delivering this in core hours whilst maintaining their own (and obviously wider divisional) demand.

“I have worked with regional managers of those stores that have repeatedly failed not just in Crawley but across West Sussex, enabling their tightening of training, policy and procedures to reach all their stores.”

You can report knife crime online or by calling 101. In an emergency always call 999.

To report knife crime anonymously, visit Fearless online.

Read more about the consequences of knife crime here.

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