Cleavers and knives are freely sold to children as young as 13

Revealed: Cleavers and knives are freely sold to children as young as 13 by online retailers

  • Hunting knives and meat cleavers among items bought by underage consumers 
  • Eleven companies have been prosecuted for selling knives to under-age youth
  • Home Office-funded campaign by trading standards from Croydon Council

Deadly weapons are being freely sold to children by online retailers in defiance of the law, a shocking investigation has found.

Hunting knives and meat cleavers were among the items bought by underage consumers in a nationwide operation to expose criminal retailers.

In the Home Office-funded campaign led by trading standards officers from Croydon Council in South London, 13-year-old volunteers tried to buy 100 knives online. They were able to buy 41 blades – and were successful in more than one in three of all attempts – resulting in 17 companies being charged.

Hunting knives and meat cleavers were among the items bought by underage consumers in a nationwide operation to expose criminal retailers (file image) 

Eleven companies have so far been successfully prosecuted for selling knives to an under-age youth, while there are another six awaiting justice.

Children learn CPR for stabbing 

School pupils as young as 13 are being taught by the emergency services how to save the lives of friends who have been stabbed.

Under the new scheme in London, pupils in years 8 and 9 learn how to deliver CPR to knife crime victims. The Crime Prevention Mobilisation Centre, which has run initial trial courses for 1,000 children and will expand the scheme in January, will also teach children about cyber-crime and arson.

The courses consist of eight classes and are led by police officers and firefighters. A Met Police spokesman said: ‘The courses are designed for years 8-9 and consist of eight sessions focused on a range of subjects such as knife crime, CPR and fire safety. The implementation of a Prevention Mobilisation Centre provides a physical and virtual hub, where blue-light organisations and other key stakeholders can work together on prevention initiatives.

‘This will enable messaging and activity to deliver health, fire and crime-prevention advice across London.’

Perkin Knives – the latest online store to have been convicted – was hit with a £10,000 fine by magistrates last week.

A 13-year-old volunteer was able to buy one of its signature ‘Damascus’ knives under the supervision of Croydon trading standards officers in February.

Perkin Knives, which is based in Ilford, East London, advertises itself ‘as the best online shop to buy handmade Damascus steel knives in London, UK. We have custom folding, hunting, combat knives.’ A statement on the site adds: ‘We sell a range of bushcraft knives, Bowie knives, hunting knives, camping knives, hatchets, axes, choppers.’

Potters Cookshop website sold a 13-year-old volunteer an 8in kitchen knife. The Essex-based firm, which offers a range of homeware and cooking products, was fined £10,398 in July.

Newcastle-based Heaton Catering Equipment was caught after allowing a 13-year-old to buy a meat cleaver, resulting in a penalty of £8,000, while Leicester tool wholesaler Cromwell Tools, which had a turnover of £247million in 2017, received the highest fine – £40,000 – for selling a Stanley knife to a child.

Ronnie Sunshines, a UK gun shop that has its headquarters in Hertfordshire, was fined £5,000 for selling a teenage volunteer a Morakniv companion knife.

Knife crime continues to rise year-on-year with a 25 per cent leap in first-time offenders in the past five years.

Ministry of Justice figures from last month revealed there were 22,306 knife or dangerous weapon offences dealt with in England and Wales in the year to June, up from 21,314 the previous year. Police have launched more than 110 murder investigations this year in London alone, with two-thirds of those caused by stabbings.

Lord Toby Harris, chairman of National Trading Standards, said: ‘Restricting the sale of knives to children via websites and social media platforms is vital. The work of trading standards officers shows that it’s far too easy for a child to buy a knife online.’

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