On 1st April 2023, small to large retailers as well as individual shop owners will have to be aware of the new sentencing guidelines that come into effect which relate to the sale of knives to children (under 18). It is clear that the increase in financial penalties for retailers really isn't to be seen as an April fool.

Organisations now face a fine based on their turnover from £500 to £1million, whereas individuals face penalties ranging from discharge to a high level community order or financial penalty. The new guidelines also take into account culpability of the offender, for example having no measures put in place to prevent underage sales (higher) to having made significant efforts to prevent sales which falls short of a defence (lesser).

The Prosecution for these type of offences typically falls within the remit of Trading Standards teams for Local Authorities. The aim of the new sentencing guidelines is to offer a more consistent and definitive approach to sentencing for these type of offences.

The law in this area is well established and simply prohibits the sale a knife, knife blade, razor blade, axe, or other article which has a blade or which is sharply pointed and which is made or adapted for use for causing injury, to a person under 18.

A company has a statutory defence if it can prove that it took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid committing an offence. Realistically, a company would need to demonstrate that it has not only introduced appropriate policies and procedures but has also taken reasonable steps to ensure their effective implementation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.