Underage test purchasers were able to buy knives at one in five shops tested during a week-long sting operation in Hyndburn and Burnley.

Officers from Lancashire County Council's Trading Standards team joined forces with Lancashire Constabulary to undertake underage test purchases at 36 shops as part of work undertaken as part of Operation Sceptre this year.

This is a national knife crime awareness campaign, with intensified weeks of action against knife crime.

Volunteers aged 13 to 16 were able to purchase a range of knives costing between £1.99 and £2.99 at seven shops across Preston, South Ribble, Hyndburn, Burnley and Wyre.

In these areas, 20 per cent of shops sold the knives to the children.

They also undertook testing in Morecambe, Lancaster, Fylde, the Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Pendle, but shopkeepers in these areas all adhered to 'Challenge 25' checks for young people.

County Councillor Michael Green, cabinet member for cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: "Carrying out test purchases to ensure that shops selling knives are doing so responsibly, is vital to protect our young people and the wider community against the horrors of knife crime.

"Our dedicated Trading Standards team work hard on undertaking test purchases, as well as educating shops about responsible ways to sell knives.

"The Trading Standards North West Young People's Survey earlier this year sadly showed that one in five young people aged 14-17 surveyed, claimed to have witnessed an incident involving a knife.

"Whilst the large retailers are signed up to a government scheme this hasn’t been expanded to smaller shops.

"Our Lancashire officers are therefore working hard to ensure all shops selling knives are carrying out a Challenge 25 policy and reducing access to knives."