Shops in town sharpen up act

PUBLISHED: 11:44 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 21:47 31 May 2010

SHOPS in Saffron Walden which illegally sold knives to an underage mystery shopper have made significant improvements , a recent investigation has revealed. A test purchase for knives carried out by Essex County Council Trading Standards on two shops whi

SHOPS in Saffron Walden which illegally sold knives to an underage mystery shopper have made significant "improvements", a recent investigation has revealed.

A test purchase for knives carried out by Essex County Council Trading Standards on two shops which previously failed a test in March have both passed on the second attempt.

Trading Standards officer Peter Stratton said: "We are very pleased that this time the results of the test are very much improved.

"Shops are beginning to take notice and realise that we are not going away - we will keep testing and take a hard line with anyone who fails."

In March four shops in the town were subjected to a test purchase and two of the premises failed to ask the young shopper for proof of age. In the recent re-test both of the shops asked the underage shopper for ID.

Inspector Kevin Wakefield of Saffron Walden Police Station said: "We do not have a problem of knife crime in this area, but obviously we take any incident involving knives very seriously.

"It is reassuring to know that the shops in question have passed the re-test."

Although shops are not required to have a separate licence for knives, it is illegal to sell the items, including kitchen knives, to someone under the age of 18.

Mr Stratton said: "We will not tolerate shops ignoring the law and selling potentially dangerous items to young people. Local shops are aware of their responsibility regarding knife sales, and there is simply no excuse for allowing underage sales."

Trading Standards carry out test purchases on all age-restricted goods, including knives, alcohol and fireworks, and they rely on intelligence from the public to make sure they target the problem hotspots.

People who suspect a shop is making illegal sales are being urged to report the issue to Trading Standards. They can be emailed at trading.standards@essexcc.gov.uk or call consumer direct on 08454 040506.


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