William Eichler 15 October 2018

Councils struggle to stop rogue retailers selling knives to children

Local authority leaders have called for more powers to crack down on retailers illegally selling knives to children.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that eight out of 10 retailers are breaking the law on underage knife sales in some areas.

These figures come as the latest official data from the Office for National Statistics show a 40% rise in knife crime in England and Wales in the past two years.

Councils are struggling to take action against retailers who are breaking the law by selling knives to children because of Whitehall cuts.

Trading standards budgets and staffing have been slashed in half since 2010, according to the LGA.

The LGA is calling for this service to receive ‘long-term and sustainable funding’ to support underage purchasing tests and prosecutions.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, welcomed the Government’s commitment to the Prosecution Fund, which will help councils take retailers to court.

However, he warned this is not enough.

‘The Prosecution Fund announced in the Serious Violence Strategy will help councils prosecute retailers for blatant breaches of knife sale laws but needs to be introduced as soon as possible to help tackle the knife crime epidemic,’ he said.

‘However, given the significant cuts to trading standards budgets, we need a long term approach that ensures all councils are properly funded to increase their under-age testing work, in order to tackle illegal knife sales and help protect people from harm.’

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