Three shops in Barking and Dagenham failed test purchases after signing up to a scheme encouraging retailers to sell knives responsibly.

Fourteen businesses in the borough originally signed up to London Responsible Retailer Agreement, which encourages shops to sell and store knives legally, safely and in a manner preventing people under the age of 18 from obtaining them.

However, Barking and Dagenham Council has revealed three businesses failed test purchases set by the council’s trading standards officers.

The council said infringement reports were being compiled and a decision had yet to be made about enforcement action.

All businesses that sell knives and other bladed items are being encouraged to refresh their staff training records and make sure that they assess the age of the buyer, challenge anyone they think is under 25 and check ID carefully.

Business owners are also being asked to update their shop layout, so knives are kept out of sight from young people.

Several businesses in Barking and Dagenham have been given certificates to show that they have agreed to abide by the terms of the agreement, including Freshco Cash and Carry in Chadwell Heath.

Councillor Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said: “We’re determined to reduce knife crime in Barking and Dagenham and local shops and businesses will play a massive part in helping us do this by ensuring that they’re selling knives or other items that could be used as weapons responsibly.

“I’m pleased that some businesses have signed up, but I would really like all businesses to get involved and help keep our young people safe.”

The agreement scheme - geared toward preventing knife-related crime - was launched by London Trading Standards in partnership with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and the Metropolitan Police.

Town hall says its trading standards service operates a “zero-tolerance” approach on underage sales of age-restricted products such as knives, alcohol and tobacco.