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Community Safety, Fraud and prosecutions

Sting operation leads to fine for shopkeepers who sold knives to 15-year-old boy

Fines have been issued to two Lambeth shopkeepers who sold knives to a fifteen year old during a special sting operation conducted by Lambeth Council Trading Standards officers and the police.

The operations – part of the Safer Lambeth Partnership’s anti-knife campaign ‘Lives Not Knives’ – sent volunteers into shops to see if they could buy a knife without being challenged, as part of a borough-wide crackdown.

Both traders pleaded guilty today (11/1/10) at Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court to selling knives without checking the customer was over 18.

Mrs Nuzhat Shafique, aged 45, of Leigham Court Road, Streatham, who owns the Clapham General Store, at 86 – 90 Clapham High Street, SW4, sold a knife to a 15 year old youth sent into the shop by Trading Standards on 26 May 2009.

When challenged by the officers as to why she had not ask for the boy’s proof of age, she claimed that she had earlier received an distressing phone call and was therefore not concentrating when the youth bought the knife. The court heard she had previously been cautioned for the same offence. She was fined £150 and ordered to pay costs of £100.

Mr Abdul Rashidi-Bowar, aged 48, of Woodcroft Road, Harrow, who owns the Black Rose Shopping Centre, 314 – 318 Clapham Road, SW9, sold a cutter knife to a 15 year old youth who was sent into the shop by Trading Standards, also on 26 May 2009. In mitigation Mr Rashidi-Bowar said that at the time he was repairing a watch at the counter and was distracted. The court heard he had also been previously cautioned for the same offence. He was fined £300 plus costs of £100.

Councillor Sally Prentice, Cabinet member for Environment on Lambeth Council, welcomed the prosecutions. She said:

“The law is very clear and there can be no excuses for traders who sell knives to young people. I hope these prosecutions send a clear message that Lambeth Council and the police will not allow irresponsible traders to operate in our borough, and those who break the law will be caught and prosecuted. Knife crime is a scourge on communities across London and Lambeth’s “Lives not Knives” campaign is doing an important job in tackling this issue.”

Bernard Conmy from Lambeth Trading Standards said his team would continue to conduct test purchasing operations across the borough:

“Shop keepers must take their responsibilities seriously. We do not want to criminalise shop keepers and we issue cautions for a first offence, but if need be we will prosecute.

“Lambeth Council Trading Standards are encouraging shops to sign up to the Lambeth Knife charter, which pledges retailers to only sell knives to over 18s and to ask those who look under 21 to ask for ID, as well as making sure their staff are properly trained.”

Over the past few months, Trading Standards officers have been visiting premises across the borough to sign up businesses to the Lives not Knives campaign, which includes training for shop staff who sell knives as well as an agreement to ask anyone who looks under 21 for proof of age ID.

Residents who suspect shops that are selling knives, alcohol or other age restricted goods to people underage should contact Lambeth Council Trading Standards on 020 7926 6102.

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