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UPDATED: Croydon DIY retailer prosecuted for underage knife sale

Published: 13 August 2009
DIY Den fined £715 after selling knife blades to two schoolgirls in council sting operation.
UPDATED: Croydon DIY retailer prosecuted for underage knife sale
The Croydon DIY store, based in St George's Walk, was fined £350 and ordered to pay costs and charges of £365 after it pleaded guilty to the charge at Croydon Magistrates' Court on Friday, August 7.

DIY Den was prosecuted by Croydon Council for selling a pack of Stanley knife replacement blades for £1.80 to two schoolgirls in March this year. The business had only been open for six weeks at the time of the incident.

The case marks the council's 15th prosecution following a series of test purchases made by volunteers under the ages of 18 as part of the borough's youth crime campaign Operation Safe For All.

DIY Den director Patricia Warby admits that it was a "genuine slip up" and realises that the council have a job to do in tackling knife crime. However, she wonders why she wasn't approached when the business first opened and provided with information about the rules and regulations she would have to comply with as a hardware retailer.

"We were a new business and I don't understand why someone from the council didn't come in and give us information on these things so that we didn't have any problems in the future."

She added: "I can see both sides and understand that people are worried about knife crime but the council seems to be targeting small shops that haven't been open very long."

Ms Warby was also perturbed that, on arriving at court for her hearing, the council had already set a fine of £781. "This amount had beeen agreed on before I'd even arrived. They said £350 was for the council and another £400-odd was costs for getting the case ready for court. But there was no case to get ready as I'd already pleaded guilty."

Fortunately the magistrate agreed that the amount was excessive and Ms Warby's fine was reduced to £715.

The news follows Allders' appearance in court in June, charged with selling a block of six large kitchen knives to a 15-year old girl and 14-year old boy. The shop assistant who served the council volunteers was also just 16-years old at the time.

Allders pleaded guilty to the charge at Croydon Magistrates' Court and was ordered to pay more than £3,000 in fines and costs.

Councillor Gavin Barwell said: "Shopkeepers have a vital role to play in keeping knives out of the hands of young people and off our streets by asking for ID from anyone they think might be underage.

He added: "We won't hesitate to prosecute anyone who fails in this duty."

Following DIY Den's prosecution, Croydon Council promptly passed the story onto local newspapers, which served as a further humiliation for Ms Warby. "It was over and I just wanted it to go away. We'd moved things around in the shop and made sure we were more aware of asking for ID when selling items but then I had customers coming in a week later saying 'oh I saw you in the paper'. There was a big splash in the local newspaper with our picture and everything. It was horrible."


Published prior to March 2014
By colin blake
An expensive lesson for Ms Warby being caught out but look on the brightside she got some publicity for her buisness out of the cost of her fine and any thing that brings customers in has got be good.
What the council do not seem to realise is that the little Bu***** that want the blades etc. don't bother about stopping at the checkout to pay so you never get the chance to ask them their age.
Published prior to March 2014
By Paul Barker
I Agree traders should be aware of rules and regulations and most stores (paticularly DIY Sheds) now have introduced an over twenty one policy to cover there backs. I.T. has a big role to play nowadays in reminding junior staff on the tills to check ID and this should help this kind of prosecution to become a thing of the past.
Published prior to March 2014
By Paul Iseard
I am a retailer and sell various knives. I am surprised at any retailer that does not ask for age identification when selling knives. If you run a business you should know the rules and play by them. Blaming the Council is a kop-out, even if their tactics are questionable. If any retailer wants advice and a visit from a Trading Standards Officer, they might be pleasantly surprised. I certainly was when I contacted the South Yorkshire service and received a visit from one of their staff. He explained in simple terms what is expected of retailers when it comes to age restricted products, and answered my questions in a rational sensible fashion.

A lot of your contributors seem to regard Trading Standards as a public enemy, but there is another side to the story!
Published prior to March 2014
By Ed
Have a laugh, just had Croydon Council in again trying to catch us out.
The little girls when challenged were asked by me to send in the Council man as they left the shop but she was already in the shop.
I challenged her on the lack of literature on selling kives minors and she said that they have new stuff in.
So I asked why the **** is isn't being sent out she said she didn't know.
So it looks like were on the next round let's try to make some more money.
Published prior to March 2014
By g.mac
Croydon council are using 6ft tall youngsters ? hats entrapment. If a thug wants a knife, he'll take it from his mums kitchen drawer. The council has just created more jobs for the boys and is raising revenue. Thats a fact. Businesses are being destroyed by actions such as this. The council are just contributing to the wasteland our town centres are becoming.
Published prior to March 2014
By Ed
Trust me when I tell the kids Croydon Council are using wouldn't get stopped in a pub.
My 18yo son served one kid who looked to me to be well over 18 and was actually 3 inches taller than me and i'm 5'11"
And as Richard H said "maybe if the council spent their budget on training and support for local traders this sort of action would not be necessary",
I actually got my brief to say this and the council trading standards guy squirmed in his seat when the bench agreed
Published prior to March 2014
By Richard H
Surely this sort of behavior by the council is a form of entrapment, if these tactics were used by the police they would not stand up in court, i would like to see some photos of the teenagers in question on the day as I am certain that they were selected by the council for their 'youthful' looks!
Maybe if the council spent thier budget on training and support for local traders this sort of action would not be necessary.
Published prior to March 2014
By Adrian Gregg
Would it not be a good idea for suppliers such as Stanley or Irwin to include a bold warning on their packaging? Maybe also the retailer to place their own stickers, as sometimes under pressure its difficult for a junior sales person to remember the different trading laws.

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