Shops in Luton and Dunstable have been caught out during a Beds Police operation testing knife sales policies yesterday (Thursday).
Officers and cadet volunteers visited 29 shops across the county and attempted to purchase knives, with every shop visited in Bedford refusing to sell knives to any of the underage volunteers.
But three shops – in Luton, Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard – failed and will now be visited by the team to discuss further training for staff. The police are not naming the businesses.
It is illegal to sell a knife or similar bladed article to a person under the age of 18.
Doing so is an offence that both the individual seller and business involved can be liable for, and can attract a penalty of up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine.
Insp John Nichols said: “It’s really encouraging that every retailer we visited in Bedford refused to sell a knife to our volunteers.
“Retailers play a crucial role in making sure our young people can’t get hold of knives, which could then be used to cause harm.
“Our team noted on the day how seriously the majority of the retailers tested take this, with most operating age verification schemes or asking for ID to ensure that mistakes are not made.
“It is disappointing that three shops failed, and the licensing team will now be working with them to discuss how resolve this, which in the first instance may be to introduce further training for staff.
“We continue to work closely with retailers and operations like this are really important to show which retailers may need further advice from the force.”
The force conducted the test purchase operation as part of Operation Sceptre, a week-long operation dedicated to tackling knife crime.
To report information about someone carrying a knife, report it via the force’s online reporting centre or call 101. You can also call independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111. In an emergency always dial 999.