Are Retailers Doing Enough To Verify Age When Selling Knives Online?

In the UK, it is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under the age of 18, unless it has a folding blade which is 3 inches long or less. While this has been the law in the UK for a while now, some retailers are still selling knives and bladed weapons online without performing effective age verification on who they are selling to.

AgeChecked previously reported that 6 in 10 retailers in some areas were breaking the law on underage knife sales. So, have things changed in 2021? Below, we ask – are retailers doing enough to verify their customers age when selling knives online?

Knife crime in the UK

Knife crime has been a major issue in the UK for many years with many people facing injuries or death as a result of weapons being carried. According to figures published by the ONS, there was a 2% increase in the number of offensive weapon and knife offences recorded from March 2019 to March 2020.

However, the number of adult offenders convicted or cautioned as a result of knife crime has decreased by 3%. Additionally, the number of minors convicted or cautions from knife crimes decreased by 1%.

While knife crime is dropping in some areas across the UK, others are experiencing more issues than ever before. This could suggest that knives are still getting into the wrong hands and that retailers aren’t doing enough to tackle the issue.

Knife sales on social media

Social media channels like Facebook and Instagram might not be your first stop when looking to purchase a knife online but for some minors, this is a real possibility in 2021. According to a recent investigation, as reported by a national newspaper, Instagram has been allowing machetes to be sold to minors on the channel.

Age and identity verification is an existing issue on social media channels with many calling out for more checks to be put in place. However, with some accounts selling knives, more action needs to be taken. Patrick Green, CEO of the Ben Kinsella Trust, a charity that campaigns to reduce knife crime spoke on this news story back in January 2021.

He said: “I am shocked and horrified to learn that these deadly knives are freely available for sale and dispatch within the UK. What is worse is that they are being marketed on Instagram and sold without age verification. This clearly shows that the seller is targeting young people.”

Are retailers doing enough?

The responsibility for age verification before a purchase is made is down to retailers both online and offline. Those who do not adhere to the law can lead to a 6-month prison sentence and so it is in the best interests of retailers to understand the law and verify age. From recent news stories such as the Instagram knife sales and the rise in knife crime in some areas, it is clear that retailers aren’t quite doing enough.

However, many say that more needs to be done by the UK Government to protect minors and ensure that retailers understand the true extent of what they are doing. Driving increased awareness to online retailers of the risks, the damage to their business both financially and reputationally whilst ensuring that loopholes in the law that allows for some sales, must be closed sooner rather than later.

How can AgeChecked help?

If you are an online retailer in the UK that sells knives, you must make sure that you have adequate measures in place to verify age. AgeChecked offers a seamless and streamlined age verification service that helps you to ensure you are compliant with the law. We have a range of secure, cost-effective options from non-integrated data uploads to full API website integrations, allowing your business to verify your customers age.

To learn more about how AgeChecked can help your business with a range of age verification solutions please click here.

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