Children as young as 13 'being sold knives and meat cleavers' in London

Children as young as 13 are openly being sold meat cleavers and knives by shopkeepers in London, an investigation has found.

Fifty shops across London were found to be selling kitchen knives, razor blades and meat cleavers to children, in the probeby Trading Standards and Scotland Yard.

The figures published by London Trading Standards and the Metropolitan Police showed children as young as 13 were able to buy knives unchallenged in shops across the capital.

Officers used child volunteers aged between 12 and 17 to carry out 315 test purchases across London.

Under UK law, it is illegal to sell knives to anyone under the age of 18.

Thirteen teenagers aged 19 and under have been stabbed to death in the capital so far year, one more than the whole of 2016.

A Met Police spokesman said: "We are committed to tackling knife crime in all its forms; and one of the key elements is to reduce the ways in which young people can get hold of knives.

"These statistics show that there is still work to be done and we continue to work closely with traders to help them improve their practices and take action where necessary to help keep knives off our streets."

The latest phase of the Met's Operation Sceptre saw the force carrying out weapon sweeps, confiscating knives and targeting hundreds of known blade carriers.

Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, said: "Knife crime devastates families and communities, and selling knives to children is both illegal and unacceptable."

She added that the Mayor is working closely with the police, retailers and Trading Standards to prevent the sale of sharp objects to young people.

"We are also targeting those who carry weapons and cracking down online videos that glamorise and encourage this terrible violence."

Steve Playle of London Trading Standards said the investigation looked into both independent shops and larger retailers.

"The issues with underage knife selling could be down to retailers being lax about who they are selling to or they just don't care," he said.

"Sometimes they don't employ the right staff who would have enough gumption to challenge a sale."

London Trading Standards is hoping to work closely with retailers to take knives off shelves and encourage them to be sold behind the counter instead.

Read more news on the city site of London.

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