Under-age knife-sale results in £2,000-plus penalty for store

 

A trader who told Croydon magistrates that, despite having owned her business for more than a year, she didn’t know what stock was in her shop, faces fines and costs of more than £2,000 after admitting selling knives to under-age customers.

Appearing in court on 28 February, Susannah Ijaz, owner of household goods shop Best Bargain Centre, in High Street, Thornton Heath, pleaded guilty on the company’s behalf.

The court heard that the shop was visited on 22 October, as part of a council trading standards test-purchasing operation, and two under-age teenagers selected a four-piece craft knife set for which they paid £2.99 without being challenged by the cashier.

A short time later the cashier and another member of staff were cautioned but it became clear that the cashier was having difficulty comprehending the concept of the offence.

Under interview in November, Ijaz said she knew little of the cashier’s background; he was working a short trial period to assess his capabilities, and had received only brief verbal instruction on the sale of age-restricted goods. She conceded that within the shop there was no structured training programme, no system concerning the sale of age-restricted items and no warning signs on display.

The court was also told that invitations to attend free Do You Pass? training – run by Croydon’s trading standards team on the sale of age-restricted goods – had been accepted by neither Ijaz or her staff.

Ijaz told the court that the knife set was in stock when the shop had been purchased in September 2015, and that she had not been aware that it was being stocked. She had also not appreciated that the set was a restricted item as its intended use was for arts and crafts.

Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice

“This, worryingly, is another instance of a business failing to accept the offer of a training course, that’s free of charge and which is designed to prevent exactly the sort of situation in which the owner subsequently found herself.

“Traders have a legal obligation to be aware of the laws surrounding the sale of age-restricted goods; it’s for their own good and for the good of the communities they serve.”

The company was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay a contribution toward prosecution costs of £1,129.50 as well as a victim surcharge of £100. Ijaz offered to pay £50 immediately, and then £100 per month thereafter, but was told to make monthly payments of £250.

Traders keen to take part in forthcoming Do You Pass? training sessions can get further information here. Space is limited, so be sure to book early. The next sessions are on:

  • Thursday 27 April 2017 – 10am to 12.45pm; and 1.15 to 4pm
  • Tuesday 11 July 2017 – 10am to 12.45pm; and 1.15 to 4pm
  • Wednesday 18 October 2017 – 10am to 12.45pm; and 1.15 to 4pm

As indicated, the sessions run for approximately 2 hours 45 minutes, and include a 30-minute multiple-choice exam. These courses are offered free of charge and are available only to small or medium-sized Croydon-based businesses.

Unique to Croydon, the sessions will also feature a short presentation from Public Health Croydon entitled Protecting children and young people – everyone’s business.

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