Barking and Dagenham Council has welcomed new guidance for the sentencing of retailers found selling knives to children.

Guidelines for courts to use when sentencing these retailers in England and Wales will come into effect on Saturday, April 1.

Issued by The Sentencing Council, they will apply to individuals and businesses who fail to prevent the sale of knives to under-18s.

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The council said it welcomed this announcement and that it had asked The Sentencing Council for clarity around offences of knives being sold to under-18s.

Cllr Syed Ghani, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said: "This is a landmark moment in the fight against knife crime.

"Despite the hard work of our trading standards teams in catching out rogue retailers, we felt many businesses were being let off with a slap on the wrist given their bulging balance sheets.

"We hope these guidelines will reinforce the seriousness of the role retailers and their employees have when it comes to tackling knife crime, which can have devastating impacts on families and the local community."

The new guidance will see individuals issued a range of non-custodial sentences, from discharge to high-level community order.

Organisations will also face fines from £500 to £1 million based on turnover, so that penalties are proportionate to the size of organisation.