Supermarket giant Asda has pledged to halt the sale of single knives in stores nationwide after increased fears of a UK knife crime epidemic.

Since the turn of the year 41 people in the UK have been killed as a result of being stabbed. Single knives are the most commonly stolen from supermarkets.

ASDA said that this has prompted them to stop all sales of single knives by April this year.

It is illegal to sell knives to anyone under the age of 18 however in Scotland it is possible for 16 to 18-year-olds to buy cutlery and kitchen knives.

Nick Jones Senior Vice President said "We strongly believe that we have a responsibility to support the communities that we serve.

"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 that there was more we could be doing to support those looking at how to bring this issue under control."

ASDA was one of the companies to sign a voluntary agreement in 2016 to package and display knives securely, after a man was stabbed using a Poundland knife.

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

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

The store said it would continue to sell multipacks of knives.

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Between the years of 1991 and 2000 the United Nations carried out a study which revealed that excluding murder, Scotland was the most violent country in the developed world.

Following this revelation, in 2005 Strathclyde Police set up a Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) to help rid Glasgow of its tag of being known as a violent city.

Of all the people who have died as a result of knife crime this year, none have been in Glasgow or Scotland.