Specialist team work with retailers to drive down knife crime


As part of Op Sceptre, an intensification week focused on knife crime, our Business Crime Team launched its Responsible Retailers campaign in Colchester.

Kicking off on, Tuesday 14 November, the team visited knife-sellers across the area to seek their agreement to sign a fresh agreement around the ethical and careful sale of knives.

Retailers visited include Robert Dyas, Sainsbury’s, TK Maxx and a number of outdoor pursuits shops. Officers were also moving throughout other areas of the city such as Tollgate and the Hythe.

As part of a renewed commitment to knife crime prevention, the signed agreement will bind retailers to several key points, including:

  • An agreement to store and display knives safely and securely.
  • Operating a strict ‘Challenge 25’ age verification policy.
  • Prominently displaying ‘Challenge 25’ posters explaining age verification to customers.
  • Full and robust training for retail staff.
  • An understanding of retailers’ ability to refuse sale to anyone if there is a concern a knife will be misused, or if they appear drunk, agitated or aggressive.
  • An agreement to share relevant knife crime intelligence with appropriate agencies.

After 14 November, the campaign will be promoted across the whole of Essex with a view to get as many retailers on board as possible.

The initiative is being launched in partnership with Essex Trading Standards and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

It follows on from a continued concerted effort to take dangerous weapons off the streets of Essex and promptly stop anyone committed to carrying a knife in public.

In the year to the end of September, the most recent figures available, there were 1,511 knife enabled offences in Essex. That compares to 1,730 in the previous 12 months – a reduction of 12.6%.

“We need to work together to tackle knife crime” Sergeant Christian Denning, of our Business Crime Team, said: “This agreement is part of the shared commitment of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners Office, Essex Police and Trading Standards partners across the county to the reduction and prevention of knife crime in Essex. The purpose of the agreement is to promote the responsible retailing of knives and to prevent people under the age of 18 from acquiring them. By signing this agreement, we ask retailers to commit to being a responsible seller of knives and to comply with set actions, agreed between the partners of this campaign.”

Sgt Denning added: “This is not just solely about knives. We’ve spoken to a shop which is keeping balaclavas out of sight, so if people go in looking to buy one of them, they have to ask and there will be checks on that person carried out. That’s one thing I would really like to get across – that it is not just knives, retailers have to be – and are being – responsible sellers of a number of products. We ask that retailers come on this journey with us, explain this agreement to staff and to ensure, to the best of their ability, that anyone working at the business complies with the requirements. It is everyone social responsibility to do what they can to reduce the impact knife crime has on our society.”

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