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Community Safety, Trading standards

Underage sales lead to fines for 18 shopkeepers, but no knives sold in Brixton show messages getting through

Irresponsible traders who sell alcohol and knives to people who are underage have been targeted in a series of sting operations by Lambeth Council and the police.

Lambeth Trading Standards officers accompanied 16-year-old volunteers to target 120 shops, off licences and pubs up and down the borough, to see if the premises were sticking to the law by challenging the volunteer to produce ID.

The results suggest that messages about illegal knife sales are getting through. All of the 10 shops visited in Brixton where the volunteer attempted to buy a knife refused the sale, and just one shop out of a total of 19 visited borough-wide failed to demand ID. In a similar operation in 2009, 11 out of 29 shops sold a knife without questioning the young persons’ age or asking for ID.

The member of staff in the shop concerned, in Stockwell, was given a caution.

This comes on the back of the anti-knife campaign ‘Lives not Knives’, which has seen Lambeth Council and the police targeting shops to encourage staff to act responsibly and remind them of the law.

Staff at 11 off licences and seven pubs sold alcohol without checking ID. All were issued with £80 fixed penalty notices and warned that if they sold alcohol again to people underage the premises could be stripped of its licence.

In Clapham, where the council has recently voted to change its policy to limit the number of bars and pubs because of concerns over drunkenness and anti-social behaviour, four pubs and two off licences sold alcohol without ID. The run up to Christmas will see the council launching a new “Be Safe Clapham” campaign where community safety officers will be working with licensees to help them encourage their customers to socialise responsibly. The campaign aims to target noisy and rowdy behaviour, encourage people to use Clapham’s pop up urinals, reduce late night littering from take aways, and keeping possessions safe – reducing the numbers of thefts within venues.

Councillor Rachel Heywood, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “It’s heartening that the message about knives seems to be getting through. Our trading standards officers have spent considerable time over the past couple of years visiting shops to remind their staff of the law, and the message is clearly hitting home.

“This in itself won’t stop young people carrying knives, but we can make it hard for people to get hold of them and reduce the number in circulation.

“There is simply no excuse for someone who is under 18 to be sold a knife or alcohol. Staff should be asking for photo ID to prove the customer is old enough if there is any doubt.

“We will continue to keep the pressure on irresponsible traders by continuing to run these operations, because they play a vital role in protecting the public and reducing crime and antisocial behaviour by stopping alcohol knives and other age restricted goods getting into the hands of young people. “

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