TOUGHER measures are now in effect concerning the sale of knives to children.

Coming into effect on Saturday, April 1, Merseyside Police have welcomed the introduction of new sentencing guidelines which will see offending businesses hit with huge fines if caught selling knives and related items to under-18s. 

Published by the Sentencing Council, the two new guidelines – one for organisations and one for individuals – apply to offenders who fail to ensure that adequate safeguards are in place to prevent the sale of a knife, knife blade, razor blade, axe, or other article which has a blade or which is sharply pointed to under 18s either in store or online. 

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Huge fines for offending organisations

For the first time, Magistrates’ Courts will have specific sentencing guidelines for this offence, which is prosecuted by Trading Standards. 

The introduction of the new guidelines will remove any ambiguity and ensure a more consistent approach to how these offences are dealt with across the country. 

Large organisations with an annual turnover of £50 million and over could be fined up to £1 million, while individuals operating small shops could potentially face a community order, or a fine up to 700 per cent of relevant weekly income.   

The offence carries a maximum of six months’ imprisonment for individual offenders and the courts will determine the level of culpability between high and low.  

For those carrying a weapon, sentencing guidelines show that the maximum sentence for possessing a bladed weapon is four years’ custody.

If the offender has committed the same offence before or another relevant offence, they will face a minimum sentence of at least six months’ custody.

Preventing knife crime a 'priority' for police

Inspector Laura Leach, Deputy Lead for Serious Violence and Knife Crime, said: “Reducing and preventing knife crime continues to be a priority all year round for Merseyside Police. We welcome these new measures which put additional safeguards in place to prevent the sale of knives to under-18s.  

“In light of the new guidelines, we would encourage all retailers to understand the scope of the new legislation and regularly carry out routine checks to ensure that their underage sales policies and procedures are being followed. 

“Operation Target is our dedicated operation to tackle serious violence and knife crime in Merseyside. Alongside open land searches, warrants and stop searches, we work with retailers throughout the year to ensure they are fulfilling their obligations when approached by a young person attempting to buy a knife. This includes conducting underage test purchases and delivering training to shop workers. 

“Carrying a knife is dangerous and can lead to fatal consequences – we are committed to doing everything we can to find the people who carry, store and use weapons in Merseyside. These new guidelines support our ongoing work to prevent crime and harm and help make Merseyside a safer place to live, work and visit.” 

Anyone with information can DM @MerPolCC on Twitter or contact Crimestoppers UK anonymously on 0800 555 111.