Underage knife sales tested in Operation Sceptre

Published: 24 May 2022


Gloved hand holding knife

Derby City Council has been working with partner agencies as part of Operation Sceptre, a national knife crime initiative to tackle knife crime.

Over the weekend the Council’s Trading Standards team worked with police colleagues to conduct underage test purchases for knives.

Both Trading Standards and Derbyshire Constabulary have a duty to protect children and others from harm and the sales of knives to children is one aspect of reducing the threat of knife crime.

To test a retailer’s procedures in preventing a sale of a knife to a child, underage volunteers carried out test purchases to see if shops challenged them and refused them. Out of the nine shops tested, one shop sold a knife to an underage volunteer, missing the warning label on the package itself.

Retailers are offered help and advice to ensure that their procedures are effective to prevent sales of age-restricted products, such as knives, to children. Most products are only for people over the age of 18. Our Trading Standards team encourage retailers to use the Challenge 25 policy to check their ID to make sure they are over the age of 18.

Most shops that were tested asked for ID but some asked the age of the volunteer. Retailers should always ask for ID and check that it is genuine. We promote CitizenCard as a PASS accredited proof of age card.

The knife crime lead for Derbyshire Constabulary, Superintendent Sarah McAughtrie, said:

“We work with retailers throughout the year to ensure they are fulfilling their obligations when approached by a young person attempting to buy a knife. We all have a responsibility to keep each other safe and shop workers have an important part to play in this.

“By conducting operations such as these we can ensure that these weapons are not available illegally and reduce the risk of the devastating effects that knife crime can have on our communities.

“Whilst we know most retailers work within the law, we will conduct education and enforcement where it is needed as part of our engagement throughout Operation Sceptre.”

Councillor Jerry Pearce, Cabinet Member Streetpride and Public Spaces at Derby City Council said:

‘Knife crime is an ongoing threat to the safety of our communities, particularly our youth, and we will continue to collaborate with Derbyshire Constabulary to decrease it as much as possible.

"We can continue to make a genuine difference in our communities with Operation Sceptre and our other community programmes."

Anyone wishing to report an underage sale can do this in confidence to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133. Businesses wanting advice can also contact this number.

If you have concerns about the sale, use, or threat of knives in the community please report this to Derbyshire Constabulary by using any of the following methods:

Facebook – send a private message to the Derbyshire Constabulary page

Twitter – direct message the contact centre on @DerPolContact

Website – complete the online contact form

Phone – call on 101.


Always call 999 in an emergency.


You can also anonymously contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by visiting the Crimestoppers website.


Operation Sceptre ran from Monday 16 to Sunday 22 May 2022 and highlighted the work done by officers and staff to tackle the root cause of these devastating crimes. Various events took place throughout Derbyshire, including school visits, public engagement, and enforcement activity.

You can see the work on social media by following Derbyshire Constabulary on Facebook and @DerbysPolice on Twitter. There are also posts by local Safer Neighbourhood Teams which are tagged with #OpSceptre.

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