POLICE sent a 16-year-old into five shops in our area this week to see if they would be able to buy knives or other bladed articles without an ID.

The Cirencester Neighbourhood Policing Team conducted this test purchase operation at five retail premises in Lechlade, Fairford and Cirencester on Wednesday, May 15.

During the operation the teenager, under the supervision of a police officer in plain clothes, entered each shop and attempted to purchase a knife or bladed article.

Attempts to buy retractable knives were refused but the 16-year-old was sold other bladed articles at three venues without being challenged about their age.

A spokesperson for Gloucestershire police said: "We undertook these tests as a part of our contribution to Operation Sceptre, a nationwide initiative to tackle knife crime and the availability of knives.

"Officers tested two venues in Lechlade, one in Fairford and two in Cirencester.

"Attempts to buy retractable knives were refused but at three venues the young person was able to buy other bladed articles without being challenged.

"The members of staff who made these sales have committed an offence under the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

"Before resolving each offence officers will be checking their background, will see what training they have had, and will make inquiries with GCC Trading Standards to establish if there is any history of similar offences at the venue. 

"We recognise that there are numerous ways for a young person to gain possession of knives or bladed articles which could be used to cause injury. 

"Test purchase operations are one way in which police can ensure retailers are aware of their responsibilities and reduce availability of blades to young people. 

"Although we don’t conduct these tests very often it is clear there is a need for them.

"We will repeat the operation in the near future. 

"If you have a knife or bladed article at home that you would like to dispose of safely then there will be a knife Amnesty bin in the reception of Cirencester Police Station for a few more days."