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Major retailer ordered to pay nearly £500k over underage knife sales

B&M Retail has been ordered to pay £492,598.53 after a joint investigation by Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge Councils into underage knife sales.

The retailer, which has more than 500 stores across the country, pleaded guilty at Barkingside Magistrates Court to three offences after a cross-border prosecution led by Barking and Dagenham’s legal department.

The first incident took place at B&M’s Goodmayes store on 19 September 2017, when a male aged 15 and a female aged 14 took part in a planned test purchase.

They purchased a set of knives and sweets and were not asked about their age or any request made for proof of age identification. The transaction was observed by an undercover police officer.

A similar incident took place 48 hours later on 21 September 2017 at Vicarage Fields in Barking, when a 16-year-old male went into the shop and purchased a three-piece knife set. Trading Standards Officers then entered the store and the seller was cautioned and interviewed.

Barking and Dagenham said B&M had been given a number of warnings. However, a third incident took place at Vicarage Fields on 18 January 2018.

On this occasion a 14-year-old male volunteer was deployed to conduct a test purchase of a knife and was witnessed by a plain-clothes police officer, who noticed the till operator was mainly talking to a person behind the volunteer and did not pay the minor attention or ask for identification as he purchased a packet of three knives.

Barking and Dagenham said that, in the past three years alone, it had obtained out of court settlements against two major high street retailers following sales of age restricted products, including knives and cigarette lighter refill canisters.

In addition, following a sale of a knife to a 15-year-old in in Dagenham, Poundstretcher Ltd received a £7,500 fine in 2016 and was ordered to pay costs of £5,221.50.  

Cllr Margaret Mullane, Cabinet Member for Enforcement and Community Safety at Barking and Dagenham, said: “This is a major milestone for us as we continue the fight against knife crime in the capital.

“The magnitude of this fine sends out a strong warning that we will not tolerate anyone selling knives to people under the age of 18.”

She added: “It is the responsibility of all businesses in the borough, no matter how big they are, to work with and protect the local community.

“Our Trading Standards team will continue to carry out test purchases and we will take the strongest possible action against anyone not following the correct guidelines.”

“It is the responsibility of all businesses in the borough, no matter how big they are, to work with and protect the local community."

John McNally of Drystone Chambers was instructed by the councils on the case.

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