This week Lewisham Council announced a new campaign aimed at preventing knife crime and anti-social behaviour in the borough.
The Responsible Retailers Agreement (RRA), put forward by the council and police, instructs participating businesses to ensure that: “knives, lighters and age-restricted toys such as ‘BB’ guns, that can be used in a dangerous manner or used to cause harm, are securely locked away and out of plain sight and are only accessible by staff.”
The aim is to encourage stores to be accountable for their stock of age-restricted items as well as any products that could be used in a destructive manner.
Councillor Janet Daby, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “Removing knives and other dangerous objects that can be used to cause harm or injury is a major step to making it as hard as possible for people to cause trouble on our streets. I applaud our local retailers who understand the important role that they can play in making Lewisham a safer place.”
According to November 2012 figures released by the Metropolitan Police, in Lewisham there were 326 knife offences last year.
The council’s Safer Lewisham Plan 2012/13 states that knife crime, robbery and burglary were “highest in the list of crimes of most concern to residents”.
Whether the new scheme will be effective in easing these concerns is still unknown, but not everyone is optimistic.
Mrs Powell, who runs a vegetable stall in the Lewisham Food Market (a participant in the agreement), emphasised that the efforts will not be effective unless all of the businesses follow the guidelines.
She said: “It’s a good idea but it’s not going to stop anything. They’re going to get hold of it no matter what. Unless everybody’s going to do it, it’s not going to work. It should be a law and made compulsory.”
The participating shops and butchers, totalling 28 so far, will display window stickers categorising themselves as ‘Responsible Retailers’.