Staffordshire Police and Trading Standards teams are asking retailers to consider how they store and display knives, as well as who they sell them to, as part of a new Responsible Retailer Scheme they are launching this week, on behalf of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Violence Reduction Alliance (VRA).
A Responsible Retailer Pack containing best practice advice, summary of relevant legislation and promotional materials on the topic of knife sales will be distributed to retailers across the county and city.
The majority of knives purchased from retailers are not used for crime, but some may be purchased with this intention in mind, so we are asking retailers to assess, challenge and check before a sale takes place as they have the right to refuse a sale if they have concerns about how the knife may be used.
Ben Adams, Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire & Rescue and Crime and Chair of the VRA said:
“Overall crime rates in Staffordshire are well below the national average, but there is still more to be done. Following recent community engagement, it is clear that our communities have some concerns particularly around knife crime. The Responsible Retailer Scheme will help to address some of these concerns, prevent the unlawful sale of knives across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and resultantly, help protect communities.”
Knives can only legally be sold to over 18s, so the pack details the best way to avoid underage sales through staff training, keeping records of sales refusals and how to display knives safely so they can’t be accessed without the help of retail staff.
Chief Inspector Rob Hessell, the Knife Crime Lead for Staffordshire Police said:
“We’re really proud to launch this new scheme, building on our partnership work through the Ditch the Blade campaign to reduce knife crime in Staffordshire.
“We know that retailers take knife sales seriously and work with us to comply with legislation, so we hope the new responsible retailer pack for knives will help to reinforce best practice across the county to make Staffordshire even safer for local communities.”
Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said:
“Knife crime is a concern for everyone, however, thankfully Staffordshire remains a place where incidents are rare.
“Our Trading Standards work hard to promote safe practices to retailers in the prevention of knives being sold to children and we are pleased to support the work of the Violence Reduction Alliance with this initiative.
“It’s vital that shops selling knives are aware of their responsibilities and our officers provide advice to ensure this happens. The team also carries out test purchases to ensure knives and other age-restricted products are not being sold to anyone under the age of 18. We do have high levels of compliance amongst Staffordshire retailers which is encouraging and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure this remains the case.”
Councillor Amjid Wazir, cabinet member for environment and enforcement at Stoke-on-Trent City Council said:
“This partnership project reflects our commitment to promoting best practices and complying with appropriate legislation. As we all know knife crime is known to be a big challenge across the UK and it is our priority to protect our children and keep our communities safe from any harm. By addressing root causes, providing support to at-risk individuals, and fostering partnerships as such, we aim to reduce incidents of knife crime and create a safer environment where everyone can thrive without any fear.
“Therefore, we strongly encourage local retailers to prioritise safety by implementing thoughtful display within the shops, secure storage and adhere to responsible sales practices.”