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Stores step up to stop knife crime

5 February 2009

The Home Office is working with 21 top retailers and the British Retail Consortium to limit teenagers' access to knives.

Among the stores cooperating with the effort are: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Aldi, Lidl, Marks and Spencer, the Home Retail Group (Argos and Homebase), TK Maxx, Wilkinsons, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Debenhams, BHS, B&Q, IKEA, Matalan, Poundstretcher, Co-op and Amazon. 

In addition, in order to ensure that knives are not sold to those under 18 years online, ASDA and John Lewis have taken all knives - excluding cutlery sets - off their websites.

Each store will put up signs explaining that younger buyers must prove they're 18 years old or older to purchase a knife. 

Key agreements

In addition, the stores have agreed to: 

  • train their staff on selling knives
  • ensure that knives cannot be easily stolen
  • change their tills so that they prompt staff to check proof of age
  • notify local police about underage customers who try to buy knives

Sending a strong message

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said, ‘I am very pleased that so many leading high street retailers are joining forces to say no to knife crime. This reinforces our message to anyone who is tempted to break the law.'

Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said ‘Retailers take their responsibility for preventing underage knife sales very seriously. Our members have voluntarily pioneered initiatives to challenge customers whose age is in doubt to produce accredited identification to prove they're over 18. If they can't, they are not sold knives.'

Since March 2008 the government has provided 350 search wands and 100 search arches to police forces across England and Wales, supplemented by an additional 700 arches and wands for high-risk areas.   

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