THE number of high street retailers in Wales asking for proof of age before selling knives to young people has increased - but online stores are being far less diligent.

Mystery shopping exercises carried out by Serve Legal in 2018 found 83 per cent of teenagers trying to buy knives from physical stores in Wales were asked for identification to prove their age - up from 71 per cent the previous year.

However, the picture in relation to online stores is far less positive, with 61 per cent of teenager mystery shoppers in Wales able to buy knives online without being asked for proof of their age.


In England and Wales, it is illegal to sell a knife to anyone under the age of 18. The only exception is knives with folding blades three inches long or less.

Serve Legal director Ed Heaver said: “No retailer, whether a major supermarket chain or a single hardware store, wants to be responsible for selling a knife to an underage person that ends up being used with tragic consequences.

"Against a tightening government stance on violent crime, our audit data for 2018 shows a significant improvement in retailer action to keep knives out of circulation amongst young people which we hope will continue to be an upward trend.

"There is still work to do, however, as more than one in six of our young mystery shoppers in Wales were sold knives without age checks last year.

"Galvanised by government action and through a combination of rigorous staff training, efficient operational systems and independent auditing programmes, we’re confident that retailers in Wales can improve their performance even further.”

Research by Serve Legal found one in 12 consumers in Wales said they would boycott a store if they found out or saw it was selling age-restricted products to young people without checks, and 39 per cent would report them to the police or Trading Standards.

Any retailer selling knives to children can be reported to trading standards through the relevant local authority, or police on 101.