Police Take Blunt Approach To Underage Sales

Crack down found 12 shops selling knives, fireworks or alcohol to young people

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An operation to crack down on underage sales found 12 shops across the borough sold knives, fireworks or alcohol to young people.

Operation Blunt saw officers from the London Borough of Hounslow working with the police, fire service and young volunteers to carry out test purchases of age-restricted goods in 72 shops across the borough.

The volunteers, who were aged between 13 and 15 and accompanied by officers, were able to buy knives in six shops, fireworks in four, and alcohol in two.

Cllr Barbara Reid, lead member for environment at the London Borough of Hounslow, said, “I’m horrified that there are still shops of all sizes selling restricted goods to young people, who were obviously underage, without asking them to verify their ages.

“Most worrying is that, given recent attention on the issue of knives and knife crime, it was so easy for the young people to get hold of them.

"Retailers should be asking young customers for identification so young people know that no ID means no sale.”

PC Clive Atkinson, from Hounslow Police, said, " The law is clear on the issues of age restricted products.

“Most local businesses have taken effective steps to prevent underage sales occurring, but there are others who need to follow suit and face up to their responsibilities.

“These products are restricted for a reason, and retailers must ensure their staff are trained on preventing underage sales and to make sure they are only selling these items to those aged 18 and over.”

The two-week operation involved test purchases from shops selling the age-related products, and inspections for the safe storage of fireworks.

The council continually carries out test purchases for age-restricted products. Residents who are aware of shops that sell products such as cigarettes, alcohol and knives to underage shoppers should contact tradingstandards@hounslow.gov.uk or 020 8583 5555.

November 13, 2008