£2.49 knife sale costs town store thousands

 

Six years after being prosecuted for selling a set of knives to two young teenagers, a central Croydon store has admitted repeating the offence.

Poundstretcher, of Church Street, pleaded guilty (on Tuesday 26) to selling a knife to a person aged under 18 and was fined £3,400 and ordered to pay costs of £1,840 and a victim surcharge of £120.

Croydon magistrates were told that trading standards’ offers of free staff training in relation to age-restricted goods sales had been ignored, and that, with the exception of a till prompt for staff, there were no warnings concerning the sale of age-restricted products visible in the shop.

The court heard that, as part of a test-purchasing exercise by the council’s trading standards team, a 14-year-old boy, with a 15-year-old girl, went into the shop on 30 October, last year.

After selecting an eight-inch cook’s knife, priced £2.49, they presented it for payment at one of the store’s cash tills, where Muhammed Ibraheem scanned it and several other items, without challenging the pair or enquiring their ages.

Duty manager Muhammad Mustaq, when approached by the trading standards officers, confirmed that an automatic till prompt displayed a warning to staff whenever age-restricted products were presented for payment.

Poundstretcher Ltd later indicated that it was the responsibility of the store manager to train staff in relation to age-restricted products, and that no corporate checks are made to establish whether the training has been carried out. The company stated that, in contravention of company policy, Ibraheem appeared to have received no training on age-restricted products

The company did not instruct its shops on how or where to display knives and did not provide material relating to age-restricted goods to display in the shop to inform staff or customers.

Since the sale, Ibraheem had undertaken, and passed, training on age-restricted products.

“There really is no excuse for the sort of ignorance of age-restricted sales displayed by the Poundstretcher staff member in this instance.

“The council’s trading standards department supports local businesses by offering free training on age-restricted sales. The training course – called ‘Do You Pass?’ – is nationally accredited and includes an exam, for which those attendees who are successful in passing, receive a certificate.

“The imposed fine, along with the fact that this is the second such prosecution for this store, heavily underlines the necessity for local traders to ensure that they and their staff have been properly trained in the matter of the sale of age-restricted products.”

Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for safety and justice

In May 2009, Poundstretcher was ordered to pay £5,000 in fines and costs, after admitting two charges of selling knives to under-age children. The charges related to sales made in the Church Street and Orpington branches.

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