Possession of knives or an offensive weapon is an offence if it is in public and without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. A weapon can be offensive as a matter of course (it is made for use of causing injury), adapted for such a purpose, or not adapted but carried with the intention of causing injury.
One of the key elements of the offence is that the weapon is carried in public, rather than being possessed in private, indoors. That is now not the case in respect of certain weapons.
The weapons that are banned in public by the Criminal Justice Act 1988 are now banned in private. This means that weapons such as zombie knives, shuriken, death stars and knuckle dusters can no longer be kept in your home. The ban also covers cyclone knives, spiral knives and rapid-fire rifles.
A new legal definition now covers flick knives, they have been unlawful since 1959, but now more knives will be covered. The definition is now:
“any knife which has a blade which opens automatically –
(i) from the closed position to the fully opened position, or
(ii) from a partially opened position to the fully opened position,
by manual pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in or attached to the knife, and which is sometimes known as a “flick knife” or “flick gun”; or
any knife which has a blade which is released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force and which, when released, is locked in place by means of a button, spring, lever, or other device, sometimes known as a gravity knife.”
The offence of unlawfully possessing a firearm is covered by section 54 of the Offensive Weapons Act 2019. It includes any rifle with a chamber from which empty cartridge cases are extracted using energy from propellant gas. The offence carries up to ten years imprisonment. The offence of possessing other weapons covered by the new ban carries up to six months imprisonment.
From December 2020 to March 2021, the government ran a scheme to allow the surrender of any of these weapons and claim compensation for them. During that time, 14,965 knives, 1,133 rapid-fire firearms and 32,000 ancillary items were surrendered, with 829 claims for compensation processed.
With this ban coming into force, the government has also issued a reminder about upcoming changes to the legal definition of “antique firearm”. In March, the Antique Firearms Regulations 2021 provided a legal definition for the first time. According to the government, the aim was to prevent the exploitation of a lack of clarity in law to gain possession of such weapons for use in crime. The definition is a firearm manufactured before 1st September 1939.
As a result of these regulations, owners have until 22nd September 2021 to apply to the police for a firearms certificate to allow legal possession. If you do not want to apply for a firearms certificate, the same date applies for the surrender, sale or other disposal of the firearm.
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If you need specialist advice in relation to any criminal investigation or prosecution, from the initial investigation through to court proceedings, please get in touch. Call John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email email@example.com. Let us help.[Image credit: “knives” by kyle.l.marsh is licensed under CC BY 2.0 ] Read More
On 16th May 2019 the controversial Offensive Weapons bill received Royal Assent, bringing into law the Offensive Weapons Act 2019.
Why was this law passed?
This legislation is designed to deal with the current problems in relation to knife crime and other serious offending involving weapons, including acid attacks. Whether it will be successful in doing that does, of course, remain to be seen. However, there are, without doubt, a lot of new measures that we are monitoring closely.
Is it in force now?
As with most Acts of Parliament different provisions come in to force at different times, so do consult us to find out the latest position.
What are the main changes?
- Sale of corrosive products to persons under 18; This offence carries a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment and may present a significant challenge for some smaller retailers who will need to ensure that comprehensive training is provided to all sales staff to avoid potential prosecution and punishment.
- The offence of having a corrosive substance in a public place; This offence carries a maximum sentence of 4 years’ imprisonment.
- The offence of breaching knife crime prevention order; This offence carries a maximum sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment.
- Sale etc. of bladed articles to persons under 18; This provision extends existing law but introduces several complex challenges for retailers.
Online retailers will also be affected by these provisions.
Knife Crime Prevention Orders:
This new order is essentially a ‘knife crime ASBO’ and is one of the most stringent preventative orders ever to have been put on the statute book.
The new laws have been widely condemned, and the implementation (likely to be piloted first in London) will be equally as controversial. We are awaiting further details of the pilot along with statutory guidance on their use.
Other changes of note:
- Amendments to the definition of “flick knife” to cover knives fully opened from a partially open condition and by ‘manual pressure applied to a button, spring or other device in or attached to the knife’. This change will close existing ‘loopholes’ in the current legislation
- Prohibition on the possession of certain dangerous knives
- Prohibition on the possession of offensive weapons on further education premises
- Prohibition on the possession of offensive weapons (numerous statutory amendments)
Numerous changes to offences concerning:
- The offence of threatening with an offensive weapon etc. in a public place etc
- The offence of threatening with an offensive weapon etc. on further education premises
- The offence of threatening with an offensive weapon etc. in a private place
- Search for corrosive substance on school or further education premises
- Various firearms offences
We will be carefully monitoring the implementation of these new measures to ensure that we are always able to provide up to date and comprehensive advice to our clients.
How we can assist
If you need specialist advice, then get in touch with John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or firstname.lastname@example.org and let us help. We deal with all manner criminal offences on a daily basis, from the initial investigation through to court proceedings. We have the expertise to get you the best result possible.Read More