Police and law enforcement partners are doing a lot of work to tackle knife crime. Operation Sceptre is a national anti-knife crime initiative targeting those who carry, use, supply and import weapons.
We want businesses to help us by reviewing the way in which they handle the sale of knives, and to report anything they hear or see that could help take more weapons off the streets. Guidance has been produced by the MPS and the NBCC on behalf of DAC Duncal Ball, the NPCC national lead for knife crime.
Incidents of knife crime have been prevalent in London and there have been increases in other parts of the UK too. Retailer engagement is just one strand of the work that is taking place. We are urging all retailers who sell knives, whether they are small independents or national chains, online or traditional high street stores, to take positive action to help us tackle knife crime by reducing the availability of knives to those intent on criminal activity. Many retailers have already adopted the Home Office voluntary agreement on the sale of knives, details of which can be found here:
Businesses can have significant influence within their local community and the vigilance and actions of staff is vital to this. If staff notice something is wrong, they should take positive action. This could be by reporting it to police or Crimestoppers, or by making changes within the store. Corporate social responsibility funding could also be used to support local anti-knife crime diversionary work. We want managers to review the placement of their merchandise – if you can’t authorise changes, police and partners will support you to make a request to head office.
In December 2017, one Morrisons store manager decided to remove kitchen knives from display as part of a local initiative. This was reviewed at a corporate level and on 23 April 2018 a decision was made to remove knives from sale in a further 18 stores. Morrisons took this step “to support the Police and other organisations tackle anti-social behaviour and knife crime in the communities around those stores”.
When considering whether to stock knives, businesses should not only consider if it is financially viable but whether staff are at increased risk. Ongoing staff training is essential in order to avoid the prospect of enforcement action being taken by the authorities. Test purchasing operations by Trading Standards regarding the sale and display of knives continue to take place, so ensure your staff are ready to respond.
Of course, knives are available in every household, but how necessary is it for your business to sell them, and if you do, are you doing so responsibly, in every case?
Businesses are encouraged to share information with their local police team, security officers, councils, business crime reduction partnerships, and the National Business Crime Centre.
When we first started working with retailers to tackle knife crime, the focus was on preventing the sale of knives to those under age. Clearly placed signage and staff training were key in reducing the challenges faced by staff at the point of sale.
Our focus has moved on to preventing the theft of knives, as we are seeing an increase in discarded packaging and stock loss within stores. If knives are on display on the shop floor, we recommend storing them in secure cabinets or using security products to protect them. As an alternative, use dummy display products so customers only collect the knife once age verification has taken place. Packaging should be secure so knives cannot be easily removed. Where knives are on display, optimise CCTV to cover them, use security guards and staff to deter thieves, and conduct regular stock checks. If you have any innovative ideas including the use of technology, we wish to hear from you.
Share our ’top ten tips’ with your staff to help make a difference (attached for download below)
In London contact the MPS Business Crime Hub or Nationally contact the National Business Crime Centre for further information or to share your ideas.