One of the UK’s largest discount retailers has been fined a record £480,000 for repeatedly selling knives to children in east London.
B&M Bargains fined record £480,000 for repeatedly selling knifes to children
B &M Bargains admitted its staff handed over blades to four teenagers as young as 14, who were sent to the Dagenham and Romford stores by police and trading standards officers - writes standard.co.uk
At a hearing on Friday, district judge Gary Lucie said the company had failed to put in place a system which would prevent children from buying knives.
“Knife crime is at record levels across the country, particularly in London,” he said.
“One of the most concerning failures is that B&M did not implement other systems. This includes putting knives in cupboards as it does with perfume.”
Judge Lucie originally imposed a fine of £720,000 but reduced this by a third because B&M “admitted the offence at the earliest opportunity”.
He added that this was the equivalent of just one day of profits for the company, which turned over £2.6billlion last year.
The case was heard less than a month after B&M worker Shevaun Sorrell, 22, was stabbed to death in Deptford.
The court heard that two teenagers, aged 14 and 15, were sent into the Chadwell Heath B&M to purchase knives on September 19 2017.
Two days later the Vicarage Field shop in Barking was visited by a 16-year-old who picked up a three-piece knife set. And in January a 14-year-old was sent into the same store to buy a blade.
Model who stabbed rival in the heart jailed for 25 years for murder
During all of the undercover operations the teenagers were able to purchase knives completely unchallenged by staff.
It is illegal to sell a blade over three inches long to anyone under 18 and companies can face unlimited fines for breaking the law.
The largest fine reported before Friday was to sports chain Decathlon, which was ordered to pay £20,000 in March after selling a knife to a teenager in Wandsworth.
At an earlier hearing Stuart Jessop, defending, said B&M served millions of customers a week at its 560 stores and it was “inevitable” mistakes would be made.
He added: “B&M accept that they did not get it right and there were failings. There is a lot of remorse from the company.”
Six teenagers have been stabbed to death in east London this year. Hassan Ozcan, 19, died from multiple stab wounds in Barking on February 3. Promise Nkenda was stabbed to death in Canning Town 11 days later.
Lyndon Davis, 18, was murdered in Chadwell Heath on March 14, while Isreal Ogunsola, also 18, was knifed in Hackney on April 4. Sami Sidhom, 18, was murdered just metres from his home in Forest Gate, Newham, on April 16 and Jordan Douherty, 15, became London’s youngest murder victim was he was stabbed to death in Romford on June 25.
Dagenham councillor Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for community safety, said: “This is a major milestone for us as we continue the fight against knife crime in the capital.
“The magnitude of this fine sends out a strong warning that no matter how big a business is, we will not tolerate anyone selling knives to people under the age of 18.
“It is the responsibility of all businesses in the borough no matter how big they are, too work and protect the local community.”
B&M has 28 days to pay the £480,000 fine, plus £12,428 court costs and a £170 victim surcharge.
Read more news of London on our site.