The measure is designed to restrict access to weapons for teenagers (Picture: Getty/iStockPhoto)

Retailers caught selling knives to underage customers could be fined £1 million under new rules designed to crack down on teenage violence.

Draft sentencing guidelines are being considered to penalise businesses found to have supplied bladed weapons to under 18s.

At the moment there are no specific rules in place for shops breaking age rules, with offenders being dealt with by Trading Standards in a lower court.

Under the new proposals, chains with a turnover or equivalent of £50 million could be fined up to £1 million, while individuals who operate small shops could be fined up to 700% of their weekly income.

It comes weeks after a 14-year-old was told to expect life in prison after being convicted for stabbing Ava White, 12, to death in Liverpool.

The same week Merseyside Police were forced to issue a stark warning to teenagers in the city following another knife attack.

In London this week, the Met had to reassure the community after rumours spread online about organised violence involving knives planned for a London park tomorrow.

The Sentencing Council said that while it did not expect sentences to change for most offenders, large organisations could see higher fines under the proposals.

Ava White, 12, died from a stab wound inflicted by another teenager in Liverpool city centre (Picture: PA)

Fines handed down to individuals between 2016 and 2020 ranged from £34 to £6,000.

Of nearly 90 organisations sentenced between 2016 and 2020, 99% were fined between £150 to £200,000.

The Setencing Council said new guidelines would ensure the courts took a consistent approach when punishing businesses found to have broke the rules.

Sentencing Council magistrate member Jo King said: ‘Selling knives to children can lead to very serious consequences.

‘There is the risk of serious physical harm to the children who buy these knives and to other people as well as the risk of wider social harms associated with the circulation of weapons among children.

‘A child purchasing a knife is also at risk of prosecution for possession of the knife.

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‘It is important that all possible safeguards should be put in place to prevent the sale of knives to children, and that the penalties for organisations are substantial enough to bring home to both management and shareholders the need to operate within the law.”

Paul Noone, acting chairman of National Trading Standards, said: ‘Given the devastation youth knife crime causes, Trading Standards has campaigned hard for consistent rules to be applied in sentencing those who sell knives to children.

‘We strongly support this move by the Sentencing Council to seek to achieve this important outcome.’

The consultation will run until August 24.

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