Knives and the law

The maximum penalty for carrying a knife in the UK is four years in prison and a fine of £5000.
Yet knife crime amongst young people seems to make the news almost every day.
Self-confessed knife-carrier Peter Smith got in touch to share his thoughts.

As a law abiding knife carrier I feel like a Jew in Nazi Germany. Carrying a pocket knife for everyday tasks (modern packaging requires a knife, especially if you have arthritis) could soon land me in jail if I happen to come into contact with one of these 1984 police state checkpoints manned by a couple of ignorant officers.
I’d like everyone to know YOU CAN carry a knife legally. It has to have a blade under 3″ and no safety lock.

That may be, but how often do you actually need a knife nowadays? Boy Scouts going camping with a Swiss Army Knife perhaps, but in modern, civilised society they should be near-enough completely unnecessary.
As laid out on the Directgov website:

• it is illegal for any shop to sell a knife of any kind (including cutlery and kitchen knives) to anyone under the age of 18
• it is generally an offence to carry a knife in public without good reason or lawful authority (for example, a good reason is a chef on the way to work carrying their own knives)
• knives where the blade folds into the handle, like a Swiss Army Knife, aren’t illegal as long as the blade is shorter than three inches (7.62cms)
However, the guidelines go on to say that if knife is used in a threatening way (even a legal knife, such as a Swiss Army knife), it is regarded as an ‘offensive weapon’ by the law.

This is also the case with things like screwdrivers – once used in a threatening manner, they are treated as offensive weapons. It is an offence to carry an offensive weapon in a public place, if you don’t have a reasonable excuse. This means that carrying something that could be viewed as an offensive weapon, and then using it in a threatening way, could mean that you are prosecuted.

And let’s face it, with the number of stabbings going on in the current climate, even these laws don’t seem to be the answer.


One Response

  1. Reading on the Directgov website, it mentioned how it’s illegal for any shop to sell knives to under 18s; shouldn’t we be thinking a little more about the responsibility of the shop owner and what kinds of knives, where they are kept and, more importantly I believe, how they carry them?

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