Shops across Bedfordshire will receive warning letters from police asking them to wise up on knife law, after 12 shops failed a recent test-purchasing exercise – including three in Bedford.
In total 34 stores were tested as part of the work that police are doing to tackle knife crime.
It is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under the age of 18. However, during the exercise, the three Bedford shops, plus three in Luton, two in Leighton Buzzard, two in Dunstable, and two others in the Central Beds area sold knives to 16 and 17-year-old police volunteers.
Sgt Craig Gurr, of the Bedfordshire Police licensing team, said: “Knives can be dangerous if they get into the wrong hands, and the law is in place for a reason.
“Last week our PCSOs and community officers visited shops across the county to help educate them on the law, yet just a week on we still witnessed a significant number of shops selling knives to young people.
“We’re currently running a campaign around youth violence and knife crime to encourage people to speak out and get help around knife crime, and as part of this we’re encouraging shop managers to wise up on knife law.”
The operation in Leighton Buzzard and Dunstable was supported by Central Bedfordshire Council.
Councillor Brian Spurr, Executive Member for Community Services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “Exercises like these are not set up to trap stores, but instead to check that they are following the law around not selling knives to children.
“The rules are very clear that it is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under 18. If you think that they are then ask for ID, and if they don’t have any then don’t sell them the knife. That way you will rule out the risk of anyone getting into trouble.”