A VILLAGE hardware store near Wantage has been taken to court and fined £7,500 for selling a knife to a teenager.

Haynes of Challow Limited, known locally as Burt Haynes, pleaded guilty after an employee sold a knife to a 16-year-old last year.

Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Friday heard on December 17, 2019, Oxford County Council Trading Standards had made a test purchase of a Stanley knife from the East Challow shop with the help of a 16-year-old volunteer from the Fire Cadets.

ALSO READ: Skoda stolen from Oxford drive way

The company pleaded guilty by post and was fined £7,500.

The council was awarded its prosecution costs of £2.222.81 and the company was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £190.

Magistrates were minded to fine the company in the region of £10,000 based on its turnover and the seriousness of knife crime related matters but took account of the early guilty plea.

The court noted that there were some 'significant aggravating factors' in the case including the fact that the trader had been given specific advice on under age sales of knives before the sale was made, that there was no effective training structure in place for staff, and that the company sells a wide range of age-restricted products.

ALSO READ: Police break up group of 50 teenagers in town park

Judith Heathcoat, the county council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “Anyone who sells age-restricted-products must ensure their staff are adequately trained and prepared to request a valid form of identification, when appropriate.

“We have all seen the tragic consequences of what happens when there are confrontations between people wielding knives. All too often those involved are under 18.

“One way of stopping such awful incidents occurring is for businesses to take sufficient steps to prevent knives being supplied to children in the first place.”

Herald Series:

Selection of knives bought by Oxfordshire trading standards during checks

Head of Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards, Jody Kerman, said: “Wherever possible, trading standards works with businesses to assist them comply with the law rather than taking legal action.

“Prior to test purchases being attempted, stores are visited by trading standards officers and given advice on the sale of age-restricted products.

"They are also informed of upcoming test purchasing and given time to implement improvements to their processes prior to the tests being carried out."

ALSO READ: Swift clean up and new barriers as travellers leave another spot

He added: “Despite these measures, we unfortunately still get underage sales being made and retailers failing to take the reasonable steps to prevent such purchases, as the law requires. When such incidents occur, we will take the appropriate enforcement action, including prosecution.”

From April 2019 to March 2020 trading standards services across England and Wales carried out 1,614 test purchases of knives with 210 stores (13 per cent) failing to make the required age checks.

This is a drop in the failure rate by two per cent compared to 2018/19 but the majority of sales made (68 per cent) were from independent shops, like Haynes of Challow.

To combat this in Oxfordshire, trading standards will be providing business advice and doing further test purchasing.

ALSO READ: Man in hospital with 'serious head injury' after town centre attack

As part of ongoing Operation Sceptre, test-purchasing and business visits will also be done by Thames Valley Police.

Shop staff involved in the physical sale of knives to anyone under the age of 18 can also face unlimited fines and up to six months imprisonment.

Last month another Oxfordshire business, Lewis Baker Retail Ltd, based in Abingdon, pleaded guilty to a similar offence and was ordered to pay almost £3,000 in fines and costs.

Anyone with information about the illegal sale of knives, alcohol or cigarettes to people under 18 should contact Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or by emailing Trading.Standards@Oxfordshire.gov.uk