Retailers, including online businesses, need to stop selling knives by default to help tackle the knife-crime epidemic, the LGA has said.
It is urging retailers to become ‘no knife shops’ by pledging not to sell knives unless it is a core part of their business, such as hardware and DIY shops and suppliers of kitchenware.
This would help reduce the availability of knives in local communities and the risk of them being used in violent crime. Latest official figures show recorded knife crime in England and Wales is at a record high, while hospital admissions because of knife-related injuries have risen by 41 per cent since 2014/15.
In some areas of the country, six out of 10 retailers have been found to be breaking the law, with shop staff caught selling knives to children as young as 14.
The LGA is also urging government to extend the Home Office Prosecutions Fund – set up as part of the Serious Violence Strategy, but due to expire this year – which has helped some councils prosecute retailers for blatant breaches of knife-sale laws.
It also wants to work with government on taking a public health approach to tackling knife crime by investing more in early intervention and prevention initiatives, including targeted youth services, on which councils have been forced to cut back in recent years because of funding pressures.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “For many retailers, particularly smaller shops such as convenience stores and corner shops, knife sales typically generate a tiny fraction of overall business income.
“By becoming a ‘no knife shop’, businesses can make a bold statement of commitment to community safety, and help stop kitchen and DIY knives falling into the wrong hands and being used as deadly weapons.”