When I worked at Lidl, there were a few products that we took extra care with. Some of these were high-value goods at risk of being stolen (like the £100 laptop we once sold, causing biblical scenes of chaos in the middle aisle). Others were to comply with laws on selling dangerous goods. Knives were always locked up behind the till. In Lidl’s Tooting branch, in a relatively rough area near Streatham, the knives were all taken out of their boxes and locked up in the managers’ office. To purchase, you’d have to show ID and wait at a till as a manager brought back the knife.
So how was it possible that Sudesh Amman, barely out of his teenage years, was able to swipe a knife from a local high street shop? It turns out that the ten-inch knives there were left on display, something Amman had sussed out the week before when he visited the shop. Kiranjeet Singh, who was working at the Streatham High Road bargain store, said:
‘My brother said he grabbed a ceramic 10-inch kitchen knife that was hanging by the till and ran outside. My brother chased him but he tore off the wrapper and stabbed a woman in the back. He stabbed another man in the side and he was more severely injured than the woman.’
So while staff at the shop would most likely have checked a customer’s ID if given the chance, Amman exploited a loophole by simply stealing the knife that was left on display.
This begs the question: are small independent retailers like Streatham’s bargain store falling through the gaps of existing policy when it comes to tackling knife crime?
Back in 2016, the stabbing of an antique dealer in Oxford triggered major retailers to join into a voluntary agreement.