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Guidance on knife sales issued to Scottish retailers

Published: 19 November 2010
Scottish Government and SRC work to ensure businesses understands strict new regulations on sales of blades.
Guidance on knife sales issued to Scottish retailers
The Government has endorsed new guidelines issued by the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) to raise awareness of new regulations on knife sales amongst Scotland's retailers to help determine if it will affect them.

The new Act means that shops now require a license in order to sell knives that are designated as being for 'non-domestic' use. The regulations also restrict the sales of knives to customers aged under 18.

The SRC's guidance helps retailers to understand if they will be affected by the change in the law, defining the term 'designed for domestic use' as a knife that would normally be used by consumer in the context of the home or family life. This extends to use in and around the home itself, including in the garden and for activities such as picnics.

As a result, retailers selling table cutlery, food prep knives, DIY and decorating knives and replacement blades, craft and hobby knives and common gardening knives, excluding large machetes and scythes, will not be affected and do not require a license to sell these blades.

The SRC's guide states that it is an offence to sell a person under the age of 18 any knife or knife blade, expect if the person is aged 16 or over and the knife or blade is designed for domestic use.

Blades that are outside of the legislation, including skewers, screw drivers, scissors, pruning saws, plasterboard saws and peelers may be freely sold to people of any age.

SRC director Fiona Moriarty said: "This is a welcome endorsement of Scottish retailers' responsible approach to knife sales. It demonstrates we are playing our part in ensuring that everyone involved understands the new regulations and they are applied as intended."

She added: "Retailers with stores in different parts of the country are very keen to avoid a situation where the law is implemented in different ways in different areas."

In England, since October 2007, it is now an offence to supply anyone under the age of 18 with a knife, blade, axe or any item with a point. Last year, Croydon Council was strongly criticised for using sting operations and test purchases to catch out local traders selling knives and blades to underage volunteers.

Retailers spoke out, stating that they had not been provided with enough information in order to comply with the new legislation and were faced with fines of up to £5,000 or six months in prison if prosecuted.

The sting operations are ongoing in the borough, with two retailers prosecuted in July - one for selling a pack of razor blades to an underage council volunteer and another for selling a flick-knife to a 16-year old. Both were fined and ordered to pay court costs.

As always, retailers are warned to be extra vigilant in the run up to Christmas, with kitchenware, cutlery and tools being purchased as gifts. For more information visit


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