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bira wants to ensure laws on knife sales are realistic for retailers
By Bira

Read Time: 5 minutes


At the sharp end

bira wants to ensure laws on knife sales are realistic for retailers

BIRA HAS WORKED with the Home Office for several years to help tackle knife crime but also to protect the rights of retailers who legitimately sell everyday sharp objects. In 2018, this activity was ramped up after the announcement of the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy and the proposed Offensive Weapons Bill 2017-19, which outlined more restrictions on the sale of products containing acid and objects that could be viewed as weapons.

The latest initiative put forward by the Home Office was for retailers to sell knives only from a locked glass cabinet or an obscured cabinet like cigarettes have to be placed in. At the end of 2018 Bira presented reasons why this approach is not workable for its members at a meeting with the Home Office. Vin Vara from The Toolshop Group and Bira’s commercial director Jeff Moody provided evidence to show the government that it simply is not practical to lock away all potentially dangerous items in a retail business as independent retailers are likely to have small stores and will not have the space available.

There also would be a cost involved, which would be a challenge for many retailers. Additionally, there is unclear guidance on what even constitutes a potential weapon. Bira is calling for clarity on this essential point. Government officials agreed with Bira’s comments and acknowledged that it is more workable for retailers to keep knives in an area that customers cannot access, such as behind the counter rather than in a locked cabinet.

Vin, who is Bira’s spokesperson on the topic, told Bira magazine: “We’ve been attending lots of meetings in recent months on the subject of knives and we’ve been working with manufacturers, suppliers, bricks-and-mortar retailers, online retailers and other associations and groups to help the government. We are at loggerheads with the government over online sales of knives because they do not want them to be delivered to a residential address, but we will continue to work on this so that a sensible solution is found for all.”

Representatives of Bira including Vin, Alan Wood from Trevor Mottram in Tunbridge Wells, Haresh Patel from Tylers of Notting Hill, cook-shop veteran Gary Gordon and Holly Wilson from London-based Prep Cookshop and Richard Dare (the subject of this issue’s cover feature) also attended a focus group with the Metropolitan Police in November last year.

The session was organised to gain feedback directly from retailers on potential educational videos for retail staff to be used when selling knives. The day was run by the Met and MOPAC, The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime. Bira believes education of staff is important and the educational videos that the Met Police is looking at are a welcome tool for spreading the message of who can purchase a knife and who cannot, and what staff should do when dealing with a potential sale they are unsure of.

Bira will continue to work with the Home Office and other bodies including the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to support the fight against knife and corrosive substances crimes. One of the biggest goals of Bira is to get clarity on what retailers need to do and to make it workable for those that legitimately sell knives and sharp objects. Bira will keep members up to date with any changes to the law and their obligations as a retailer as and when they are implemented.

Bira wants any retailers that the proposed legislation would affect, if it goes through, to get in touch to support the arguments and evidence being presented to the Home Office.

If you are in any doubt of your current obligations when it comes to the sale of potentially dangerous weapons or the sale of products containing acid, always refer to gov.co.uk for guidance. And make sure that all your staff are aware of their responsibilities too.


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