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Over 20% of retailers sold knives to underage teens in test purchase operation across region

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Wednesday, Mar 13th, 2019.

North Wales Police and Trading Standards Officers across the region have carried out ‘test purchase operation’ at retailers in a bid to tackle knife crime.

The test purchases were carried out as part of Operation Sceptre, a national operation dedicated to tackling knife crime, with the cadets visiting 63 stores that offer knives for sale across all six counties during a week-long campaign.

It is illegal to sell a knife or similar bladed article to a person under the age of 18. Doing so is an offence that both the individual seller and business involved can be liable for, and can attract a penalty of imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

A total of 62 premises were visited, with volunteer police cadets attempting to purchase knives from the retailers.

Of the premises 48 passed. However the 14 stores which sold knives to the underage youngsters will now be visited by police and local authorities to be given further advice and reminded of their responsibilities to ensure they follow the law on the sale of knives.
Detective Inspector Tecwyn Green of North Wales Police said:

“The purpose of the operation – which was the first time North Wales Police has conducted such a co-ordinated approach to tackling knife crime collaboratively, was to test local stores of their awareness of the law, their security measures and their own range of verification schemes.

“Retailers play a crucial role in ensuring our young people can’t get hold of knives which could then be used to cause harm.

Whilst we are pleased that 49 of the stores we visited refused to sell to our cadets for not having any identification, unfortunately a number of them did allow purchases to be made.

The licensing team from the relevant local authority will now be working with them to discuss how to resolve.

“North Wales Police and all partner agencies are committed in doing everything they can to tackle knife crime. If you carry a knife, not only are you putting other lives at risk, but also your own.

We will continue to work closely with retailers and further test purchasing operations will be carried out in the future to ensure all businesses are operating within the law.”

Assistant Chief Constable Neill Anderson said: “We fully support the national Operation Sceptre campaign, by targeting those who habitually carry and use knives, tackling the supply and access to weapons and engaging with the public to increase awareness of the consequences of carrying knives.

“Carrying a knife or a weapon is still a reality for some people, many of whom are unaware of the repercussions. It does not keep you safe and by carrying a knife you are putting yourself and others in much greater danger.

If caught with a knife you could face a prison sentence of up to five years – and that is just for possession in a public place. If you cause injury there will be other charges to answer and you could go to prison for longer. It’s just not worth the risk.”

If you have information regarding knife crime or if you know of someone carrying a knife, please report it to North Wales Police on 101 or via the live webchat. Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency always dial 999.

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