ONE retailer sold a knife to a teenage boy as police held test purchases across the town centre.

Officers worked with St Helens Council’s Trading Standards department to conduct the knife test purchases.

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Two teenage volunteers – a boy and a girl aged 16 – were instructed to attempt to purchase a knife in each of the businesses.

They visited 10 stores and retailers in the town centre including the Hardshaw Centre; Church Street; St Helens Retail park; High Point Retail Park; Cotham Street and St Mary’s Market as part of Operation Target – a forcewide operation to combat serious violence.

Under UK law it is illegal to sell a knife of any kind to anyone under 18 years of age.

Of the 10 premises visited, nine refused to sell the knifes to the teenagers.

Meanwhile, one sold a black and silver kitchen knife to the boy.

Following the sale the retailer was spoken to by a police officer and has verbally agreed to remove all knives and bladed articles from sale in their business.

St Helens Targeted Policing Inspector Neil Birkett said: “It’s very positive to hear that in 90 per cent of cases business owners refused to sell the knives to our underage volunteers.

“Hopefully this means that our messages about the dangers of knife crime are being heeded and retailers are being more alert to who is attempting to purchase knives.

“I am pleased that we could work alongside our colleagues in Trading Standards, who supplied our young volunteers, on this operation. It is important that all partners can work together to tackle some of the issues around serious violence, in this case knife crime.”

St Helens Star:

Cllr Jeanie Bell

Cllr Jeanie Bell, St Helens Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “I’m glad to see local retailers take the matter of knife sales very seriously, and grateful for the work of Merseyside Police, our Trading Standards team and local young people on this vital operation.

“Knife crime causes such terrible harm in communities, reaching far beyond acts of violence to affect every resident’s sense of community safety and security. Anything we can do as a council and as a community to help keep knives off St Helens’ streets is worth every possible effort.”