National retailer among four stores found selling potential weapons to children in Littlehampton
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Police working to disrupt crime and raise awareness of the dangers of carrying knives carried out a day of action in Littlehampton.
Officers carried out safety sweeps as part of Operation Safety through the town’s parks to make sure there were no hidden weapons, while police cadets joined test purchases at nine stores.
One of the stores, a major national retailer, failed to challenge a 16-year-old purchaser who bought an axe.
The test purchases are designed to test whether stores are adopting the Challenge 25 scheme, and to educate retailers which fail to challenge young teenagers from buying knives and bladed items.
In total four out of the nine stores failed the test purchase. Sales assistants at three of the stores were investigated and an education session was given to the fourth store which had failed.
Sergeant Scott Walters said: “Ensuring that shops and stores do not sell bladed items is a crucial part of ensuring our communities are safe and retailers take their responsibilities around this role seriously.
“We want retailers to work with us to prevent sale of dangerous items to children.
“Where repeated failures are found, regional and national management is engaged to ensure staff are well educated and trained to challenge anyone who appears under 25 and cannot prove they are over 18.”
Sgt Walters said the punishment for selling a knife to a child can be anything ranging from an unlimited fine to six-months imprisonment.
Similar action days have been held at Brighton Railway Station and in Bexhill and Eastbourne in recent weeks.
A woman was arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs and a man was arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs and a knuckle duster as a result of the day of action in Littlehampton.
Sgt Walters said: “Operation Safety will continue to target those thought to be conducting criminal activity and reduce the presence of weapons in our community.
“The Offensive Weapons Act now makes possession of prohibited weapons such as knuckle dusters, flick knives and other lethal object an offence, even in private.
“We will actively pursue intelligence about being kept in private to ensure they are removed from circulation and to lower the risk of them being used for violence.”