Poundland has announced it is to stop selling kitchen knives from all its stores by the end of next month as campaigners criticised it for stocking toy blades and meat cleavers for Halloween.
The retailer said it would remove kitchen knives from all 755 stores by the end of October “after thoughtful reflection about concerns raised by both communities and colleagues”.
Knife crime rose by 16% in one year in England and Wales, with the number of offences involving a knife or sharp instrument jumping to 40,147 in the year to March 2018, according to police figures.
Poundland retail director Austin Cooke said: “The decision to stop selling kitchen knives nationwide is a commitment that we know means a lot to both our colleagues and our customers.
“For a long time they’ve expressed their concern around the associated risk of having knives available and the unfortunate truth is that in the wrong hands, knives can be used for the wrong purpose.
“The safety of our colleagues and customers is crucial and we hope our fellow retailers will follow our lead in playing a responsible role in preventing knife-related incidents”.
Patrick Green, chief executive of the Ben Kinsella Trust, said: “Families who have lost loved ones and victims of knife crime will be horrified to learn that these knives that look so realistic are being sold to children.
“While these toys are not illegal and Poundland is not breaking any laws, their sale may lead children to believe that carrying a knife is a normal or exciting thing to do.
“Given the epidemic of knife crime across the country in the last three years I would urge Poundland to cease selling these plastic knives immediately.”
A spokesman for Poundland said: “We share their concern on knife crime. That’s why no-one is doing more than Poundland.
“By the end of this month we’ll be the only high street retailer to completely remove kitchen knives from all of our stores nationwide.
“This, however, is just a glow-in-the-dark yellow plastic toy for Halloween.”