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Teenagers help keep Medway's streets safer

Date: 02/07/2008           Category: Community Safety

Teenagers in Medway are helping with the fight against knife crime. Groups of young people who are aged from 13 to 17 are working alongside Medway Trading Standards to make sure shops that sell knives and blades are following the law by not selling them to anyone younger than 18. They have been taking part in test purchase exercises throughout the summer where they attempted to buy bladed instruments at the checkout. Checkout assistants should challenge anyone who appears to be 18 or younger by asking them for identification to prove their age before selling the knives. Anyone caught selling a knife to a teenager younger than 18 can face a £5,000 fine and/or six months’ imprisonment. Medway Council is one of a handful of authorities across the country that undertakes this type of test purchase exercise. Shops selling age restricted products like alcohol and tobacco are also being targeted. Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Enforcement Cllr Rehman Chishti said: “Medway Council takes all areas of community safety seriously and these test purchase exercises play an important role in our work. “While this is a partnership exercise, with the police playing a vital role in dealing with criminals who carry knives, the council is actively doing its bit to ensuring shop keepers only sell knives to anyone old enough. “Medway is one of the only councils in the country that undertakes these type of test purchase and the teenagers who help us play an important role in the work we do.” B&Q Checkout Services Manager Angus Mercer, who works at the Gillingham store, welcomes the exercise. He said: “All staff are told that knives and glues should not be given to anyone under-18 and should challenge anyone who looks younger than 21. “B&Q adopts a no-ID, no-sale ethos in this store and refuse to sell these type of products to anyone who looks younger than 21. Staff undergo regular training to remind them of the law and I am confident we are doing all we can to help keep knife crime off our streets.”