Around one in seven London knife retailers are acting irresponsibly by selling potential weapons to children as young as 13.
The figures emerged from test purchases across the country with 96 retailers out of the 725 test purchased in London selling knives to underage children.
Despite it being illegal to sell knives to anyone under the age of 18, teens were able to buy a machete, while another bought a lock knife.
One 14-year-old bought a nine-inch serrated knife while a London retailer sold a knife to a 13-year-old.
The news follows a sharp 20% rise in knife crime in England and Wales with the vast majority of knife crime involving teenagers and young adults.
The government recently announced plans to end home delivery of knives to make it harder for underage people to get their hands on knives.
Test purchases by Royal Greenwich Trading Standards even saw a major supermarket chain sell either razor blades or craft knives to a a 15-year-old and 16-year-old.
A Croydon trader was ordered to pay £2,000 in fines and costs after selling a four-piece craft knife set to two underage teenagers after prosecution by Croydon Council.
Despite most retailers passing the test purchases, the Local Government Authority are calling for greater fines and tougher sentences for irresponsible retailers selling knives to underage teens.
Currently, retailers who sell a knife to an under-18 face up to six months in jail or a fine of up to £5,000.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:
“Despite most retailers passing test purchases of knives, trading standards teams at councils across the country are uncovering some shocking abuses of the law.
“Knives are lethal weapons in the wrong hands and it’s vital that shops do all they can to prevent them falling into the hands of young people because just one illegal knife sale could have tragic consequences.
“Knife crime has risen significantly in the past year. Clearly there are many different ways that people access knives, whether from home, high street stores or online sales, but we need to make sure that the retail supply of knives is managed robustly across all sales points.
“The recent government announcement on collection points for online knife sales is an encouraging step, but needs to be backed up with action on the high street where the sale of knives needs to be checked consistently, for example, by asking for proof of age if a retailer is unsure the buyer is under 18.
“With councils experiencing ongoing funding pressures, we are calling on the retail industry to step up and fund underage test purchasing activities and liaise with councils to help improve safety standards and compliance with the law on knife sales.
“Councils will be working with retailers to educate them about their responsibilities when it comes to selling knives, continue to carry out test purchasing and won’t hesitate to take enforcement action against anyone selling such dangerous weapons unlawfully.
“Tougher sentences, including larger fines, are also needed to reflect the seriousness of selling knives to children.”
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