Three businesses have been fined thousands of pounds for illegally selling knives to children online under a Croydon Council Trading Standards-led pilot nationwide clampdown.
The companies were fined a combined total of £25,000 plus court costs after they each sold a knife online to a 13-year-old volunteer underage test purchaser working for Croydon Council’s trading standards team. In all cases, the companies had not carried out enough checks to make sure that the buyer was over 18.
To date the council has carried out eight prosecutions since June as part of its nationwide pilot clampdown against online knife sales to children. The initiative is led by the council’s trading standards team and backed by the Home Office and National Trading Standards.
Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 as amended by the Offensive Weapons Act 1996, it is illegal to sell a knife, knife blade, razor blade or axe to anyone under 18.
On September 17, magistrates sentenced Kent-based Technophobia Communications Ltd, trading as Legend Cookshops, to a fine of £12,000, court costs of £2,200.60 and a £181 victim surcharge for selling a 12-centimetre Acero utility knife to a 13-year-old in January. The council had sent the company an advance letter in November to say an online test purchase was likely. The court was told the company had failed a previous test purchase in 2014 carried out by North Yorkshire Trading Standards.
Also on September 17, Fishers Catering Ltd of York was ordered to pay an £8,000 fine, court costs of £2,161.40 and a victim surcharge of £181 for selling a Sabatier all-purpose knife to a 13-year-old underage test purchase volunteer in January. An advance warning letter had also been sent.
On September 12, Hertfordshire-based Ronnie Sunshines was found guilty of selling a Morakniv companion knife online to a 13-year-old underage test purchase volunteer. The sale took place on November 28, 2018 – two weeks after staff at the firm had been sent an advance letter by Croydon Council warning an online test purchase was likely. The gunsmith and bushcraft specialist was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay court costs of £4,000 and a £170 victim surcharge.
Councillor Hamida Ali, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities, said: “Knife crime devastates young lives, and all businesses have a responsibility to follow the law and prevent the illegal sale of knives to children. These latest prosecutions demonstrate how our excellent trading standards team is leading a nationwide clampdown against these illegal sales.
“Just as a shop must refuse to sell a knife to a child in person, these cases underline the fact that companies across the country need to do much more to stop these illegal sales online – or risk prosecution themselves.”