Prosecutions follow National Trading Standards test purchasing programme
The final hearing of the 17 prosecutions taken by Croydon Council for the online sales of knives to children saw Extreme GB Ltd found guilty and fined £10,000 with £15,000 costs on Tuesday 1 June.*
The prosecutions bring to a conclusion National Trading Standards’ test purchasing programme, which was funded by the Home Office and started by Croydon Trading Standards in 2018. This funding supplements routine work delivered by local authorities in England and Wales to prevent knife sales to children.
During the pilot test purchasing programme, a 13-year-old volunteer working under the guidance of Croydon Trading Standards made 100 attempted test purchases online, of which there were 41 sales. From these 41 sales, 17 prosecutions were taken, and all 17 resulted in a conviction.
In one case, Topline Wholesale Ltd, based in Derby Street, Manchester, sold a hand axe via eBay to the 13-year-old test purchaser. After entering a guilty plea, the company was fined £8,500, ordered to pay £10,500 in costs and a victim surcharge in the sum of £170.
In a separate case involving Bright Associates Limited, selling a six-piece knife set to the 13-year-old online led to a fine of £11,725 plus costs of £1,250 and a victim surcharge of £170 . The company sold the knives via the website www.wowcher.co.uk. As part of the purchasing process, the volunteer was asked to enter a date of birth and entered his true date of birth, showing that he was 13 years of age.
In total, £179,755 of fines were issued under this project which targeted those selling knives to children online.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said:
“Since launching this test purchasing programme we have been committed to supporting retailers to help reduce and prevent underage knife sales by promoting best practice and advising businesses.
"But in many cases, enforcement is needed. All 17 prosecutions resulted in guilty outcomes, which demonstrates what we’ve been saying all along: the law is clear and if a retailer has adopted the correct procedures and ensured they are implemented, there is no offence. National Trading Standards will continue to lobby Government to provide funding for initiatives of this nature to ensure that enforcement action is taken in more cases."
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the Trading Standards teams involved in securing these verdicts, particularly Croydon Council’s Trading Standards team which led these 17 cases."
Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed, Cabinet Member for Communities, Safety and Business Recovery, said:
“I am very proud of our trading standards team which has led the way in this pioneering project, helping to secure an impressive 17 prosecutions against online retailers who are failing to follow the law by selling knives and axes to our youngsters.
“Selling knives to children is incredibly dangerous and too many lives have been lost by the reckless actions of retailers. I hope this series of prosecutions sends out the clearest possible message that they must put tough measures in place to stop underage sales or risk going to court.”
Notes to Editors
* i) Company fined £10,000 (credit given for good character, culpability found to be ‘negligence’)
ii) Ordered to pay full costs in the sum of £15,005.80
iii) Ordered to pay the Victim Surcharge in the sum of £170
Notes to Editors
About National Trading Standards
National Trading Standards delivers national and regional consumer protection enforcement. Its Board is made up of senior and experienced heads of local government trading standards from around England and Wales with an independent Chair. Its purpose is to protect consumers and safeguard legitimate businesses by tackling serious national and regional consumer protection issues and organised criminality and by providing a “safety net” to limit unsafe consumer goods entering the UK and protecting food supplies by ensuring the animal feed chain is safe.
Croydon Council Trading Standards’ webpages.