Major retailers and Home Office agree principles for responsible selling of knives

Major retailers and the Home Office have agreed on a set of principles for the responsible selling of knives, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

In a statement, the trade association for the UK retail industry said: ‘As an industry, we are committed to ensuring the responsible selling of knives in the interest of public safety.

‘The set of principles builds upon previous initiatives in this area including, most notably, a six-point commitment for retail knife sales issued by the Home Office in 2009.

‘We welcome the Home Office’s commitment to explore the application of Primary Authority and Better Regulation Deliver Office (BRDO) codes for knife sales which will help ensure a more consistent application of policy and greater certainty for retailers.

‘We further welcome the Home Office’s decision to consider the use of the Online Identity Exchange (OIX) and Trust Elevate, which could provide retail businesses with a useful voluntary customer identity validation tool.

‘We will be encouraging our other members who sell knives, but who were not involved by the Home Office in the immediate discussions, to adopt the set of principles as would be relevant and appropriate to their business models.’

Multiples Tesco, Lidl UK, Amazon UK, Wilko, Argos, Morrisons, Asda, Poundland, Sainsbury’s, John Lewis and Waitrose have committed to the following principles:

1. Retailers will apply their policies for age-restricted sales, such as ‘think 21’ or ‘challenge 25’, to ensure age verification checks take place – and knives will only be sold (or supplied) once they are satisfied the customer is 18 or over. This will include proof of age checks for in-store sales, collection or point of delivery situations.

2. Action will be taken in-store and online to remind customers and staff that knives are age-restricted products. This means knives will only be sold (or supplied) once age verification to ‘think 21’ or ‘challenge 25’ has taken place. Supervisory support will be provided where appropriate.

3. Retailers will ensure knives are displayed and packaged securely as appropriate to minimise risk. This will include retailers taking practical and proportionate action to restrict accessibility and avoid immediate use, reduce the possibility of injury, and prevent theft.

4. All staff selling or approving sales of knives will be provided with training, with that training being refreshed at least once every year. This includes all staff involved in the sales transaction up to and including delivery.

5. eBay is committed to a safe online marketplace and currently prohibits the sale of all knives on, with the exception of cutlery.

6. Amazon requires that all third-party sellers on its marketplace comply with the law on the sale of knives, including clearly listing products as for over 18s and requiring age verification on delivery. Those who do not, are subject to action including potential suspension.

Alongside this, the Home Office will:

1. Work with the police in co-operation with trading standards (and the Better Regulation Delivery Office and relevant codes) to deliver test purchases across a range of retailers in six months’ time, and to feedback information to retailers’ head offices on the results, to aid and understand progress.

2. Explore further the application of Primary Authority for knife sales to provide businesses with assured advice and promote consistent approach to compliance with knife legislation.

3. Explore the use of Online Identity Exchange and Trust Elevate as a secure, reliable age verification tool for knife sales in the near future.

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