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B&M admits selling knives to underage children in Barking, Dagenham and Chadwell Heath stores

PUBLISHED: 16:17 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:27 05 September 2018

Children were able to buy these knives in B&M stores in Barking, Dagenham and Chadwell Heath. Pic: Barking and Dagenham Council

Children were able to buy these knives in B&M stores in Barking, Dagenham and Chadwell Heath. Pic: Barking and Dagenham Council

Archant

One of the UK's largest discount retailers is facing a large fine for repeatedly selling knives to children in Barking, Dagenham and Chadwell Heath.

The B&M store in Vicarage Field, Barking. Picture: Basit MahmoodThe B&M store in Vicarage Field, Barking. Picture: Basit Mahmood

B&M Bargains admitted its staff handed over blades to four teenagers as young as 14 who were sent to stores by police and trading standards officers.

At a hearing on Friday, district judge Gary Lucie said the offences were particularly worrying because knife crime was “endemic” in the area.

John McNally, on behalf of Barking and Dagenham Council, said there were a cluster of knife sales to teenagers over a short period of time at the east London shops.

He added: “The company is prepared to put perfume in a protected cabinet, but not knives.

"The company is prepared to put perfume in a protected cabinet, but not knives.
That, I think speaks to how cautious the company is."

John McNally

“That, I think speaks to how cautious the company is.”

The court heard that two teenagers, aged 14 and 15, were sent into the Chadwell Heath B&M to purchase knives in September last year.

Two days later the store inside the Vicarage Field shopping centre in Barking was visited by a 16-year-old who picked up a three-piece knife set.

And in January a 14-year-old was sent into a store in Whalebone Lane South, Dagenham, where they were able to buy a three-piece knife set.

During all of the undercover operations the teenagers were able to purchase knives completely unchallenged by staff.

It is illegal to sell a blade over three inches long to anyone under 18 and companies can face unlimited fines for breaking the law.

The largest fine reported has been to sports chain Decathlon, which was ordered to pay £20,000 in March after selling a knife to a teenager in Wandsworth.

Stuart Jessop, defending, said B&M served millions of customers a week at its 560 stores and it was “inevitable” mistakes would be made.

He added: “B&M accept that they did not get it right and there were failings. There is a lot of remorse from the company.”

Judge Lucie said he needed to time to consider the sentence and the court would reconvene on September 21.

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