New sentencing guidelines for businesses found selling knives to children have been introduced to tackle worrying youth knife crime.
The guidelines came into force on April 1.
The Sentencing Council states that the guidelines are there to ensure adequate safeguards are in place to prevent to sale of a potential weapon to under-18s, either in store or online.
Larger organisations with a £50 million plus annual turnover could be fined up to £1 million and smaller independent stores could face a community order or a fine up to 700 per cent of their weekly income if found to be selling knives to young people.
The objects prevented for sale under these measures are knives, knife blades, axes or any other article that has a blade or is sharply pointed.
For the first time, the Magistrates Court will also have new specific sentencing guidelines for this offence.
Merseyside Police welcomed the new measures and say that they will remove any ambiguity and ensure a more consistent approach to how these offences are dealt with across the country.
Inspector Laura Leach, Deputy Lead for Serious Violence and Knife Crime said: “In light of the new guidelines, we would encourage all retailers to understand the scope of the new legislation and regularly carry out routine checks to ensure that their underage sales policies and procedures are being followed.
“Carrying a knife is dangerous and can lead to fatal consequences – we are committed to doing everything we can to find the people who carry, store and use weapons in Merseyside.
“These new guidelines support our ongoing work to prevent crime and harm and help make Merseyside a safer place to live, work and visit.”
According to Home Office crime statistics, knife crime in Liverpool has risen over the past year.
Analysing the data of the past two quarters of 2021-22 and 2022-23, Liverpool recorded a 10% rise, with 288 separate incidents.
CELLS, a Liverpool-based organisation that aims to educate young people on the consequences of crime says the new guidelines are only part of a wider approach that needs to be taken to reduce knife crime.
CELLS Project Manager, Shaun Glanville said: “Reducing knife crime has no quick fix or easy solution.
“Education, peer and family support, policing and sentencing must be considered as an holistic approach.
“We must consider why young people carry knives and understand why they feel protected or safer carrying knives.
“All children and young people deserve to be educated on the consequences of doing so, we also need to limit access, which these new sentencing guidelines obviously compliment.”
Merseyside Police are currently implementing ‘Operation Target’, a regional focused operation to tackle serious violence and knife crime in Merseyside, which the new measures will become a part of.
The £4.2m campaign, funded from the Home Office’s £100m Serious Violence fund, aims to tackle gun and knife crime, armed robberies and murder investigations.
It will also investigate violence in night-time economy areas, county lines and drug use.
Chief Superintendent Matt Boyle said: “We know what concerns the people of Merseyside and although resources have been put into tackling these issues in the past this additional funding from the Home Office means our response will now be bigger and better.
“I also hope that it will give confidence to people and reassure them that we will continue to take positive action to protect all victims of serious crime and bring criminals to justice.”