Asda has vowed to remove single kitchen knives from sale at all its stores by the end of April, amid rising fears over their use in fatal stabbings.

The supermarket announced the move on Saturday as pressure mounted for action to be taken to reduce knife crime following a string of stabbings on teenagers.

Asda senior vice president Nick Jones said the move was its contribution to tackling the crisis.

"Whilst we have already taken steps to restrict the sale of knives to ensure that they do not fall into the wrong hands, we felt there was more we could be doing to support those looking at how to bring this issue under control," he added.

"We know single knives are the most common knife products to be stolen and that is why we have chosen to remove these items from our stores."

Multipack kitchen knife sets will still be available, but will be security tagged for extra protection.

Poundland, which announced in September it would remove all kitchen knives from sale, "wholeheartedly" welcomed the move.

Its retail director Austin Cooke said: "We know this issue is important to customers and colleagues alike and now urgently ask other retailers to consider where they stand."

Calls for action have intensified following the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old girl scout Jodie Chesney in Harold Hill, east London.

On Saturday, 20-year-old Manuel Petrovic, from nearby Romford, appeared in court charged with her murder.

Asda's move also came after an undercover investigation by Channel 4's Dispatches showed a 17-year-old girl was allowed to buy knives from Asda and B&M without being challenged over her age.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We welcome this move by Asda to restrict access to knives in their stores.

"It is already illegal to sell knives to under-18s and retailers are playing their part in ensuring they don't fall into the wrong hands."