Cheap knives and meat cleavers are being sold in online auctions — by police.

Several constabularies from across Britain have made the gaffe by listing the blades on the Web at the same time as supporting efforts to crack down on knife crime.

Police forces often sell lost or seized property such as bicycles, clothes and computer equipment through a Web site called Bumblebee Auctions.

A "kitchen devil" carving knife set — including a 17" blade — was listed for auction by Torquay Policewith a starting bid of just $1.50.

Devon & Cornwall Constabularyconfirmed it is investigating how the knives came to be offered for sale on the site.

It said "procedures will be put in place to ensure it does not happen in the future."

Thames Valley policelisted two nine-piece knife sets, which included meat cleavers.

"Selling items such as this kitchen knife set is against Thames Valley Police's procedures," a spokeswoman admitted.

Any item offered for sale on the site requires it to be collected from a police station and under no circumstances would knives have been given to young people.

Devon & Cornwall Constabulary published a statement on the Bumblebee auction saying, "This was due to staff error and will be investigated. Regular checks are made on the site and staff will be reminded of the policy."

The discovery comes just days after Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Home Secretary Jacqui Smithpromoted their Tackling Knives Action Plan and pledged to continue working with police to take knives off Britain's streets.

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