Britain's Co-op stops kitchen knife sales as stabbings rise

A police officer walks next to crime scene cordon tape where a man was stabbed in west London, Britain March 16, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

(Reuters) - Britain’s sixth largest supermarket operator Co-operative Group was the latest chain on Friday to say it had stopped selling single kitchen knives in response to a wave of fatal stabbings.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Murrells told reporters on a call after the company’s annual results that it put a halt to the sale of knives about three weeks ago.

“We’ve launched our safer colleague, safer community campaign to support colleague safety and help identify the causes of community crime. This has seen us remove kitchen knives from sale in our stores,” he said.

There were 285 fatal stabbings in England and Wales in 2018, the highest level since records began more than 70 years ago, official statistics have showed.

The surge has spurred British politicians into action, with Prime Minister Theresa May holding a special meeting on the issue and announcing plans that could make teachers and health workers responsible for tackling violent behavior.

Walmart-owned British supermarket chain Asda said a month ago that it would remove single kitchen knives from sale in all its stores by the end of April.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham