New definitions will help retailers abide by knife law

Knife retailers wanting to stay on the right side of the law have now been given clear definitions of what is and is not a knife.

New definitions will help retailers abide by knife law

The Cookshop & Housewares Association has persistently lobbied government about confusion surrounding the issue. Now, the rules have been clarified and are included in the CHA’s Knife Sales Information Support Pack.

The law states that it is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under the age of 18. However, scissors, skewers and pruning saws have also all been targeted as age-controlled items by local trading standards offices, often in sting operations, and retailers have found themselves threatened with court action for selling items not normally considered to be knives.

Interpretation of the rules has also varied from authority to authority.

Now, following work with Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services, the CHA has received clear guidance on exactly what constitutes a knife for the purposes of age-related sales, and has included it in its new pack.

The pack, which also contains point-of-sale support material, is free, but retailers have to sign up so that government can keep track of the success of the scheme. Local-authority recognised status as Responsible Retailer is also to become available to those signing up.

Communications director Mick Weedon said the pack was the result of unstinting work by members and staff of BHF-BSSA Group, of which CHA is a part, over a period of years.

“Now we have clearer rules and recognition of their importance by central authorities. None of that removes any of the responsibility of the retailer to abide by the regulations, but now they will be much clearer about what those responsibilities are.”

For more information about the pack, please contact the BHF-BSSA Group Information Office on 0121 446 6688 or email

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