Thursday, May 30, 2024

How the Business Crime Team are working with retailers to keep knives out of the wrong hands

OFFICERS from Essex Police’s Business Crime Team are working with retailers across Essex to implement restrictions around the sale of knives.

The Responsible Retailers initiative – launched in partnership with Essex Trading Standards and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner – began in Colchester but now involves more than 50 stores in Chelmsford, Southend, Basildon, Harlow and Thurrock.

As part of our ongoing work to prevent knife crime, businesses who have signed up to be a responsible retailer have agreed to:

• Store and display knives safely and securely.

• Operate a strict ‘Challenge 25’ age verification policy.

• Prominently displaying ‘Challenge 25’ posters explaining age verification to customers.

• Provide full and robust training for retail staff.

• Understand they could refuse sale to anyone if there is a concern a knife will be misused, or if the buyer appears drunk, agitated or aggressive.

• Share relevant knife crime intelligence with appropriate agencies.

This week police forces across the UK are conducting a week of anti-knife crime intensification under Operation Sceptre.

Knife crime in Essex is down by 7% in the past year, with recording 112 fewer ‘knife-enabled’ offences than in the 12 months to April 2023.

More than half of knife crime suspects are males ages between 10 and 19. They are also the age group most likely to be victims.

Sergeant Christian Denning of the Business Crime Team said the reaction of the retail community to knife crime prevention has been very positive:

“We are working with retailers to keep knives out of the wrong hands and so far, we’re pleased with at how receptive businesses have been to our advice.

“We carry out test purchases, we’re seeing knives locked away in cabinets, and retailers tell us they are challenging people about their ages and intentions.

“When it comes to purchasing knives, we talk about the four As – availability, affordability, attractiveness, and accessibility. Anything we can do to make it more difficult for people to get hold of knives – particularly young people – is worth it.”

Sgt Denning added that the Responsible Retailers scheme was just one of a number of ways in which his team are helping to tackle knife crime:

“Alongside our work on the high streets, we want to tighten up the processes of online retailers. Do they really know who is ordering from them? Can they be sure these knives being received by a responsible adult?

“We are also working with Border Force on preventing the importation of weapons. We know people order weapons online that arrive in the UK from countries including the USA and China.

“Many are being intercepted but if we can cut off this supply line, we will stop these weapons finding their way onto our streets.” 


  1. To think that a 10yr old child could stab somebody is terrible. Knives are so easily hidden that the police and the public find it hard to spot a carrier. So of the advanced kitchen knives you can buy from abroad ie thos with long lasting Damascus blades are shocking to think they could end up in the wrong hands. However things like screw drivers carpenters chisels are also so easy to buy. Where does it stop.


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