Town hall bosses have called for tougher fines and sentences to stop shops illegally selling knives to children.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has claimed nearly one in four shops is breaking the law on underage knife sales in some areas, with blades sold to children as young as 13.
The LGA said trading standards teams around the country have been alarmed at the results of some of their test purchases to ensure retailers are complying with the law.
In one area an underage teenager was sold a machete, another was sold a lock knife and a 14-year-old managed to buy a nine-inch serrated knife.
Of the 725 test purchases carried out by London trading standards and the police across the capital in 2016, 96 sold knives and blades to children as young as 13.
The LGA said the worrying findings come as latest official figures show a 20 per cent annual increase in knife crime in England and Wales.
And it said greater fines and tougher sentences are also needed for irresponsible retailers breaking knife sale laws.
‘With councils experiencing on-going funding pressures, we are calling on the retail industry to step up and fund underage test purchasing activities and liaise with councils to help improve safety standards and compliance with the law on knife sales,’ said the chair of the LGA’s stronger and safer communities board, Cllr Simon Blackburn.
‘Councils will be working with retailers to educate them about their responsibilities when it comes to selling knives, continue to carry out test purchasing and won’t hesitate to take enforcement action against anyone selling such dangerous weapons unlawfully.’
‘Tougher sentences, including larger fines, are also needed to reflect the seriousness of selling knives to children.’