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Marcus1979
Jun 21st, 2006, 08:00 AM
Shops still selling knives to children

LONDON (Reuters) - Children as young as 12 are still able to buy knives in British shops, despite months of publicity about fatal stabbings, a survey has found.

Children aged 12 to 14 were able to buy knives on 28 percent of attempts, according to the Trading Standards Institute (TSI).

"Year after year we have highlighted the problem of under-age sales, particularly of dangerous items such as knives and alcohol," TSI Chief Executive Ron Gainsford said in a statement Tuesday.

"So it is extremely disturbing to find that so many traders are still prepared to sell knives to people who are under 16."

The TSI is backing calls for the legal age for knife purchases to be raised to 18 years.

Young volunteers taking part in the TSI survey bought knives on 53 out of 184 attempts.

A sting carried out in Romford, Essex, found that five knives were sold to under 16s by all five shops visited within just three hours -- with some of the purchases being six-inch blades.

In Northamptonshire, two 13-year-old boys were sold knives on five out of 10 attempts. These included long-bladed kitchen knives and a Stanley box-cutting knife.

In Slough, a boy aged 12 and girl aged 13 bought a 10-piece knife set, two carving knives and a 20 cm bread knife.

But illegal sales of knives to under 16s seem to be decreasing in the light of a Home Office knife amnesty and recent media coverage of knife crime, Gainsford said.

The TSI findings are based on test purchases carried out by 14 trading standards services across England and Wales.