Lidl, Poundland and M&S among shops 'selling knives to kids as young as 14 despite ban'
According to an investigation, teens were able to buy the cache of potentially deadly weapons at High Street chains and supermarkets, including Marks & Spencer.
According to the investigation by the Daily Express, more than a quarter of the shops they visited were prepared to sell knives to teens – even though the law states buyers must be 18 or older.
In two cases, it was reported staff were spotted cancelling electronic alerts to prevent the sales to underage buyers which flashed up on the till when the knife was scanned.
Blades bought by a 14 year old boy in separate shops in the operation included a stainless steel knife with a serrated edge, a chef's knife – both eight inches long – while the young teen was not asked for ID, it has been claimed.
In a Bristol branch of Lidl, where the teen paid under £2 for the eight inch kitchen knife, a spokeswoman told the Express the supermarket was "incredibly disappointed" that their robust procedures in relation to the sale of knives had not been followed, and they are conducting a "full internal investigation" into the matter.
At an M&S branch in Pudsey, a 17 year old teen paid £12.50 for a six inch chef's knife, to which a spokeswoman for the supermarket told the paper: " We take a strict approach to the sale of knives, which requires customers to provide proof of age before purchase."
They added they were taking the incident "seriously" and are investigating.
Elsewhere, it's claimed a 17-year-old teen bought a 'Perfect Slice' carving knife set from a Poundland store in Birmingham – just days after the retailer announced it is banning the sale of kitchen knives in its stores after an unprecedented level of knife crime across the UK since the start of the year.
Poundland told the paper: “We will obviously investigate precisely what happened in Perry Bar but we understand the importance of this issue… That’s why we recently announced we would stop selling kitchen knives completely."
They added: "We have already taken them off sale in London and will do so in the rest of the country by the end of the year.”
Teens were able to buy a utility knife, a Stanley knife, a ceramic chef's knife and a scissors, the paper said.
The newspaper claimed half of the "successful purchases" were made in Leeds, with four out of 10 shops selling knives to teens.
Previously, in response to the launch of Operation Sceptre in February to tackle knife crime, National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Knife Crime, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Duncan Ball said: “I want to see retailers recognise their responsibility to help keep communities safe and refuse to sell knives to children.
“Previous test purchasing operations have shown that there are still too many retailers who are selling knives to under-18s, nearly 20 per cent."
He added: “There are many complex drivers of knife crime and we need a broad approach involving public health and education to stop it at source but halting the sale of knives to children is an action we can take now that will reduce the numbers of knives on the streets."
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