The Heart of England Co-op has made a stand against knife crime by removing all kitchen knives from sale at its 33 food stores.

The society has also enforced a strict Challenge 25 policy for knife sales at its eight non-food stores.

Heart of England Co-op chief executive Ali Kurji said: “The law says only over-18s can buy knives, alcohol or cigarettes. This policy means our staff will not need to make an on-the-spot decision and makes it very difficult for a 17-year-old to convince them they are old enough to buy a knife. If someone looks under 25 they must produce identification. 

“Staff in any doubt have been told to refuse the sale.”

Both moves have been praised by police and local residents. A police spokesman said: “West Midlands Police applauds this stance, as a number of attacks are caused by household knives. We would welcome any reduction of access to these type of knives by young people.”

Local resident and member of the group Families Against Knives, Kelly Newman, also urged other retailers to take action: “If a high-profile chain of supermarkets can be seen to be doing something about knife crime, people will see that the issue is being taken seriously,” she added.