Tough New Weapons Laws Hit the Statute Book

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 has been passed in order to assist in stemming the current problems in relation to knife crime and other serious offending involving weapons, whether it will be successful in that regard does, of course, remain to be seen, but there is, without doubt, a plethora 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 ascertain the latest position.

What are the main changes?

New offences:

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 order 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 any member of our vastly experienced Criminal Defence team, for assistance with any criminal law related matter.

Mr John Stokes (John.Stokes@danielwoodman.co.uk),
Mr Anthony Pearce (Anthony.Pearce@danielwoodman.co.uk),
Ms Sarah Turland (Sarah.Turland@danielwoodman.co.uk),
Mr Daniel Woodman (Daniel.Woodman@danielwoodman.co.uk) or
Mr Lorne Wilkinson (Lorne.Wilkinson@danielwoodman.co.uk).

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