There’s little surprise that Croydon might have a “knife crime problem”, when established businesses think little of the consequences of flogging sets of deadly blades to kids.
The council’s trading standards this week brought a successful prosecution at Croydon Magistrates Court which saw a company and its staff fined nearly £6,000 after an employee was caught having sold a £5.99 pack of knives to a 14-year-old girl from a store on Central Parade, New Addington.
Croydon Council decided to prosecute store-owners Astoria International Ltd after a trading standards officer saw an employee at the company’s Gift Bank shop sell the craft knives last September.
Raymond Morris, the shop worker who sold the knives, now has a criminal record. He was given a four-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, ordered to pay £315 in costs and victim surcharge, do 100 hours’ unpaid community work and carry out 19 sessions with Think First, a Home Office-accredited rehabilitation programme for offenders.
Morris, 56, of Horsley Drive in New Addington, admitted at an earlier hearing the offence of selling a knife product to someone under 18.
And at Croydon Magistrates’ on Tuesday, Astoria International company director Ram Kumar Vijay, 53, from Southall, who admitted the same offence at an earlier hearing, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £4,210.80 in costs plus £300 in victim surcharge.
The court heard at a previous hearing that the teenager was a volunteer carrying out under-age test purchases for the council as part of regular trading standards checks to ensure businesses are obeying the law on knife sales. Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 as amended by the Offensive Weapons Act 1996, it is illegal to sell a knife, knife blade, razor blade or axe to anyone aged under 18.
The council’s trading standards and Metropolitan Police officers worked together on September’s test purchase after police had given Gift Bank a warning last April for selling a two-piece cutter set to two 13-year-olds in school uniform at the store.
Croydon’s trading standards team runs regular free training sessions called Do You Pass that keep businesses up-to-date on the law, best practice and to prevent under-age sales of age-restricted products. At a previous hearing the court was told that, despite council offers to take up this training and reminders that test purchases would be carried out, the company did not get in touch for the training.
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