Government Consults on New Knife Crime Laws

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Government Consults on New Knife Crime Laws

The government is consulting on legislative measures to provide the police with more tools to disrupt knife possession and tackle knife crime.

It has identified certain types of machetes and large outdoor knives that do not seem to have a practical use and appear to be designed to look menacing and be favoured by those who want to use these knives as weapons.

One proposal is to include them in the list of prohibited offensive weapons set out in the schedule to The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988. Weapons listed in this schedule are prohibited under s141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

This would mean that the manufacture, importation, sale and supply of these items would be an offence.

Possession, both in public and in private, would also be an offence, unless a defence applies.

The government is inviting views on the finer details of the description of the items they intend to ban.

Government is also consulting on whether to provide the police with additional powers to enable them to seize, retain and destroy bladed articles of any length held in private, or whether the powers should be limited to articles of a certain length, even if the items themselves are not prohibited.

The government argues that it is a proportionate response for the police, where they are in private property lawfully, to seize, retain and eventually destroy bladed articles if they have good reason to believe they will be used in crime.

In addition, they are consulting on whether there is a need for the government to toughen the current penalties for selling prohibited offensive weapons and selling bladed articles to persons under 18, and on whether the Criminal Justice System should treat carrying in public prohibited knives and offensive weapons more seriously to better reflect the severity of the offences.

Finally, they are consulting on whether it would be appropriate to mirror firearms legislation and introduce a separate possession offence of knives and offensive weapons with intent to injure or cause fear of violence. This would carry a maximum penalty higher than the current offence of possession of an offensive weapon in public under s1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 (the PCA).

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Image credit: "Hunting Knife" by cooling84 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.