Cheap, deadly and legal: How to buy a 19-inch blade in just 10 minutes
E&S investigations editor Alex Ross visited two shops to find out just how easy it is to buy the deadly knives over the counter.
It is so long the shop worker cannot fit the weapon inside the carrier bag before I head out scrupulously into the busy high street.
A 19-inch silver ninja sword equipped with a holder, all for just £13.50, and available to buy in just 10 minutes.
That’s how long it’s taken to purchase the weapon along with a lock knife and three throwing knives.
And all I had to do was show my passport and scribble down an address, which was not checked.
I casually asked the worker ‘do you sell many?’. He replied ‘too many’ before giving off an awkward laugh.
He described how he sold off a whole shelf of brutal-looking ‘Predator’ blades in just one day.
As if to defend the quantity of sales, he then said it was collectors who mainly bought the weapons along with people who used them for fishing and hunting.
How he knew that was anyone’s guess.
It’s an eye-opener into the prevalent sales of potentially lethal, but legal, weapons from the centre of our city and town centres.
The shops I visit are called The Deal Maker.
It has branches in Salop Street, Wolverhampton and Castle Street, Dudley, both of which were Cash Converters stores. The shops have no connection with Cash Converters now.
“We are not tied to any head office or anything like that now – we have a little bit more leeway in what we can do,” the shop worker in Dudley told me, as he gestured toward a selection of weapons.
“They (Cash Converters) never liked us selling them.”
In Wolverhampton I picked up a ‘long-reach machete’ for just £13.90. In Dudley I got the ninja with a 19-inch blade, lock knife and a set of three throwing knives for under £40.
At both stores I was asked to provide ID, and I showed my passport and wrote down my address.
The address was not checked against a utility bill or driver’s licence. I gave two different addresses, one of which was the Express & Star’s Queen Street HQ which I inadvertently gave with an incorrect postcode.
It didn’t seem to matter.
Back in Wolverhampton’s branch, a stone’s throw from the city’s Youth Zone and outdoor market, I wandered in at opening time, 10am.
I walked over to a glass-fronted display case where a long reach machete with a 17-inch blade is on show.
WATCH Pete Madeley and Alex Ross on deadly blades
It was surrounded by various other weapons, including knives of every shape and size, crossbows and BB guns. I asked the man behind the counter if I can take a look at one of the machetes.
He already had one boxed up. I said I’d take it and he placed the weapon back into box.
I wrote down my address on a slip of paper and he took a quick glance at my passport.
“It is to cover our own backs,” he says when I ask about the address.
He said if there was a stabbing, police would come in and he’d hand the addresses over of everyone who has bought a knife.
I’m told they have never come in to check.
The transaction was done and dusted, and a few minutes after entering the shop I was back out on the city centre streets, armed with a weapon that could wreak havoc put into the wrong hands.
It was much the same story in Dudley, where the shop assistant told me he sold ‘too many’ knives, predominantly for ‘display purposes’ or hunting or fishing.
After I pointed out the ‘ninja’ sword, throwing knives and a lock knife, he took them out of their boxes to show me. I passed over my passport and he asked for my address. This time the address I provide is inaccurate, although no questions are asked.
In fact, I’m told that the two shops do not share access to addresses.
He says: “It’s basically only for us really, if anything happens obviously it’s down to the police then but we don’t like passing any information on.”
Almost incredibly, he added: “It’s for our safety and the public’s safety.”
We are not the problem - sellers
The Deal Maker has defended the sale of knives, claiming they make it as difficult as possible for people to buy blades.
A spokesman from the shop, which has branches in Dudley and Wolverhampton, said it sold ‘long-reach machetes’ and other knives ‘mainly to collectors’.
Banning their sale would send out a message that people were ‘completely irresponsible’, he said. He added: “The trouble is, if we go any further we move more and more to a controlled society.”
He claimed police and trading standards officers visiting the shop had been impressed by the strict identification checks carried out.
The root of the problem of knife crime, he said, was gang violence and weak sentences, not the supply of knives.
He said: “If you commit knife crime you should get a 30-year sentence, it is down to the courts to actually send a message out to society. That is not down to us, we do more than anybody else does. It is down to the Home Office.”
He added: “The issue also lies with gang problems, let’s say we stop selling them, it isn’t going to change gang crime, it isn’t going to change stabbings, they’re going to stab people with screw drivers, carving knives or a knife from B&Q.”
Last week, police tweeted pictures of knives seized from the car of suspected criminals. They were identical to the zombie-style knives sold in the shop.
The spokesman added: “Does it mean they got them from us? If they got them from us we probably wouldn’t sell them. They get stuff from places where it is a lot easier. We make it difficult for people to purchase.”
He said the shop had received no complaints over the sale of the knives and kept a book detailing people who were refused sales.