Children could get their hands on potentially deadly knives in three out of 10 shops visited by police in Leicestershire Police as part of their #LivesNotKnives campaign.

The operation, which was carried out on Tuesday, July 25, involved trained people under the age of 18 attempting to buy knives in 10 shops across Leicestershire. Shockingly the young people were able to buy potentially deadly weapons in three of these shops.

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The #LivesNotKnives campaign aims to reduce the number of knife-related offences in the county, to educate and inform young people of the dangers of carrying knives, and to bring criminals to justice. It comes as official figures show a 20 per cent annual rise in knife crime in England and Wales.

It is a criminal offence to sell a knife to any person under the age of 18 in the UK, and anyone who looks under 25 should be asked to provide proof of age by shopkeepers.

Sergeant Glen Iceton of the police’s knife crime team said: “We know knives can be easy to get hold of and this operation is just one element of our multi-faceted approach to combating knife crime.

“We are pleased to see that some shops are taking steps to stop young people buying knives. The operation shows that stores across the city are aware of their responsibility when it comes to selling lives and the impact that irresponsible sales can have on the local community.

A selection of the knives collected by Staffordshire Police in a recent amnesty

“We will be working with the shops which failed the operation to educate them on the law and ensure that all staff are trained to prevent further illegal sales. I felt the operation was very successful and we will be carrying out similar operations across the force area.”

Meanwhile, nearly one in four shops visited nationally were breaking the law on underage knife sales in some areas of the country, according to nationwide council trading standards teams.

The report released by the Office for National Statistics found that children as young as 13 were able to purchase dangerous tools such as a nine-inch serrated knife and even a machete.

Councillor Simon Blackburn, from the Local Government Association, said: “Despite most retailers passing test purchases of knives, trading standards teams at councils across the country are uncovering some shocking abuses of the law.

“Knives are lethal weapons in the wrong hands and it’s vital that shops do all they can to prevent them falling into the hands of young people because just one illegal knife sale could have tragic consequences.”

What does the law say about carrying a knife?

If you are found carrying a knife in a public place without good reason, you could face up to four years in prison, while with offences when a knife is used on another person, the punishments are much more severe.

It is illegal to sell knives to anyone under the age of 18. This includes any knife, knife blade, razor blade or axe that could cause injury to another person.

Recent studies have shown that people who carry knives are more likely to be involved in a fight with others who carry weapons, and could even find themselves injured by their own weapon.