Large retailers selling to knives to children could be fined up to £1m under new proposals, after a London council warned the current sentences did not reflect the seriousness of the offence.
The Sentencing Council has published draft guidelines for action against organisations and individuals that fail to prevent the sale of knives to those under 18 either in store or online.
Under the proposals, large organisations could be fined up to £1m for selling knives to children, while smaller organisations could be fined up to £100,000.
There are currently no guidelines for this offence and almost all prosecutions are a result of test purchases by trading standards departments.
The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham called on the Sentencing Council to create a sentencing guideline for this offence in 2020, warning that sentences being passed for larger organisations did not adequately reflect the seriousness of the offence.
Sentencing Council magistrate member, Jo King, said: 'Selling knives to children can lead to very serious consequences. There is the risk of serious physical harm to the children who buy these knives and to other people as well as the risk of wider social harms associated with the circulation of weapons among children. A child purchasing a knife is also at risk of prosecution for possession of the knife.
'It is important that all possible safeguards should be put in place to prevent the sale of knives to children, and that the penalties for organisations are substantial enough to bring home to both management and shareholders the need to operate within the law.'