The round table forum, which took place on March 4, discussed forthcoming Offensive Weapons Act (OWA) legislation – which is expected in the summer – and proactive police and trading standards initiatives on the legitimate retail of bladed items.
BHETA, which represents many of the UK’s leading retailers and suppliers of housewares, home improvement and garden products, created the steering group in 2018. Participants include John Lewis & Partners, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Dunelm, TK Maxx, Elys of Wimbledon, Harts of Stur, Taylor’s Eye Witness, Amefa, Fiskars, Meyer, Haus, Burton McCall, Kuhn Rikon, Rayware and Robert Welch Designs. BHETA has been working with Scotland Yard on the project since summer 2019.
The Metropolitan Police updated attendees on the latest relevant statistics and political emphasis, including its own new initiatives to record and analyse data on seized weapons with a view to advising on home/work storage of items in circulation as well as new product in retail.
It also gave an outline of its guidance aimed at retail SMEs regarding kitchen knives, and welcomed feedback from suppliers and larger retailers at the forum on how this could be improved prior to wider roll-out to retail in general, to parents and the general public. The meeting also touched on the potential for testing round-ended kitchen knives for the mass market from the perspective of suppliers and retailers.
The meeting heard from Tony Allen, ceo of the Age Check Certification Scheme and co-chair of the Government Panel for Age Verification, whose organisation scrutinises the efficacy of age verification in all its many current forms. From a technical viewpoint, Tony supplied an overview of age verification methods and how they will evolve. He offered practical suggestions regarding retail procedures, packaging and barcodes, as well as the most practical areas of government and other interested parties to approach from a lobbying perspective.
The other key speaker was BHETA marketing manager Steve Richardson, who is spearheading BHETA’s liaison with these experts, as well as driving BHETA’s initiatives to its members comply with current and future legislation and market demands in this area.
Steve updated attendees on BHETA’s lobbying regarding the multiple confusions in the initial OWA draft, liaison with Trading Standards and liaison with the Wine and Spirit Trade Association to develop its Challenge 25 retail POS and packaging initiative for bladed items.
There is now a suite of officially sanctioned Challenge 25 artwork for suppliers, retailers and delivery companies involved in the legitimate supply of age-restricted bladed items such as kitchen knives and DIY and garden tools. All are available through the BHETA member services team and include artwork for labels, posters, shelf barkers and badges for retailers; and packaging and labels for outer cartons used in home delivery.
BHETA chief operating officer Will Jones, who chaired the meeting, commented: “This was a hugely positive event involving the best-informed opinion on the current situation regarding the legitimate purchase of bladed items through all retail channels. We achieved some great consensus on a number of positive ways forward which BHETA, alongside the other parties, will be following up keenly.”
For more information about the BHETA responsible knife retailing campaign and BHETA lobbying, contact the BHETA member services team on 0121 237 1130 or visit www.bheta.co.uk.
BHETA chief operating officer Will Jones