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Shops in Wokingham and Newbury tested for underage knife sales

Trading Standards officers from the Public Protection Partnership supported the Thames Valley Police in Wokingham and Newbury with their ongoing work in relation to knife crime with a series of test purchase operations. 

Out of the 22 stores visited across Wokingham and Newbury, underage volunteers, working with the Public Protection Partnership’s Trading Standards team and Thames Valley Police, were sold no knives. The only sale was a pair of scissors voluntarily marked as not for sale to under 18’s and this store in Newbury has been advised by the police about the sale. Four of the stores did not have knives on site and the rest refused the sale. Some stores have started locking away knives from the shelves and age must be proven before any will be shown, other stores now have tickets on the shelves which can be taken to the till and exchanged for the knife, again when age is proved.

Cllr Hilary Cole, Chairman of the Joint Public Protection Committee, said:

“It is illegal to sell a knife, or similar product, to anyone under 18 years of age and best practice is for the retailer to adopt a recognised age verification system such as Challenge 21 or Challenge 25. Retailers of all sizes need to ensure their employee training policies are thorough and robust with regard to responsible knife sales.”

In comparison to the test purchase operations carried out during National Knife Awareness Week in March this year, these test purchase requests show a marked improvement by the local stores to ensure those under the legal age of 18 are not able to buy knives. During the previous series of test purchase operations carried out in Bracknell and Newbury in March the failure rate was 4 in 26.

Any Wokingham Borough, West Berkshire or Bracknell Forest resident who has concerns about the sale of knives to young people, or any other trading standards or public protection matter, should contact the service on 01635 519930 or e-mail the PPP team on tsadvice@westberks.gov.uk.