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3 March 2016, 15:39
Kitchen knives, razor blades and an axe were illegally sold to teenagers aged 14-16 in a test purchase operation across West Yorkshire.
Out of 69 stores put to the test by the undercover teenagers, nearly a third (20) failed after selling a knife or other bladed instrument to someone under age. It is an offence to sell a knife or certain articles with a blade or point to anyone under the age of 18.
The test purchase operation was carried out in every policing district in West Yorkshire and follows the force's high profile weapons surrender campaign in January, backed by stabbing victim Vincent Uzomah, which saw more than 150 bladed and offensive weapons and 80 guns handed in at the county's police stations.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Angela Williams of West Yorkshire Police, said:
"The law is clear - it is an offence to sell knives to anyone aged under 18. We are therefore disappointed that a number of stores have broken this law and sold potentially dangerous weapons to young people.
"We had the successful weapons surrender in January to take weapons off of our streets. For knives and other bladed instruments to then be sold to young people who have no business owning one goes against this hard work.
"Thankfully this was a test purchase operation and on this occasion all of the bladed instruments that were purchased were returned to the stores in question. We have spoken with everyone involved and given four community resolutions. One person was reported for summons.
"It is pleasing to note that all the stores involved have taken positive action to do their very best to ensure that they do not sell knives to children in the future and we will continue to work closely with them and our partners in Trading Standards to advise stores of their responsibilities under the law."
West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Mark Burns-Williamson said: "It is concerning to hear that a number of stores have broken the law by selling knives to people under 18 and they need to be reminded of their responsibilities certainly in light of the recent weapons surrender which I fully supported along with West Yorkshire Police
"It is reassuring to know that gun and knife crime remains low across the county, but everyone has their part to play in that including retailers to ensure we are doing all we can to keep our communities safe and preventing potential crimes of the future.
"I am pleased the stores have taken action to ensure they do not sell bladed instruments or knives to young people and would remind all retailers of their responsibilities in helping to keep West Yorkshire safer and feeling safer."
The 69 stores were visited between Monday 15 February and Sunday 21st February. The stores visited were a mixture of small, local and privately owned shops and bigger stores that are part of national chains. Roughly 70% of the fails were the larger stores.
13 stores were subject to a test purchase operation in the Bradford district. Of those, three failed.
25 stores were visited in the Calderdale district. Of those, nine failed
In Leeds the number of stores visited was 16. Of those, four failed.
The Wakefield district had 15 stores visited. Of those, three failed.
And in the Kirklees district 10 stores were subject to a test purchase operation. One failed.
The operation by West Yorkshire Police complemented a London-wide operation by the Metropolitan Police Service to tackle knife crime. Operation Spectre saw specialist officers from the Trident and Area Crime Command alongside Safer Neighbourhood Teams carrying out high visibility patrols in places where intelligence suggested people could be carrying or using.