Bladed & Offensive Weapons

For many years it has been an offence to have an offensive weapon in a public place, but on 14th July 2021 it became an offence to have an offensive weapon in a ‘private place’. This will of course include your own home.

A full list of the items classified as offensive weapons is given at the schedule to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons Order):

(a) a knuckleduster, and any weapon incorporating a knuckleduster.

(b) a swordstick

(c) a “handclaw”

(d) a “belt buckle knife”

(e) a “push dagger”

(f) a “hollow kubaton”

(g) a “footclaw”

(h) a “shuriken”, “shaken” or “death star” being a hard non-flexible plate having three or more sharp radiating
points and designed to be thrown.

(i) a “balisong” or “butterfly knife”.

(j) a “telescopic truncheon”.

(k) a “blow pipe” or “blow gun”.

(l) a “kusari gama” being a length of rope, cord, wire or chain fastened at one end to a sickle.

(m) a “kyoketsu shoge” being a length of rope, cord, wire or chain fastened at one end to a hooked knife.

(n) a “manrikigusari” or “kusari” being a length of rope, cord, wire or chain fastened at each end to a hard
weight or hand grip.

(o) a disguised knife, that is any knife which has a concealed blade or concealed sharp point and is designed
to appear to be an everyday object.

(p) a stealth knife, that is a knife or spike, which has a blade, or sharp point, made from a material that is
not readily detectable by apparatus used for detecting metal and which is not designed for domestic use,
or for use in the processing, preparation or consumption of food or as a toy.

(q) a baton.

(r) a sword with a curved blade of 50 centimetres or over in length; and for the purposes of this sub-paragraph
the length of the blade shall be the straight line distance from the top of the handle to the tip of the blade.

(s) the weapon sometimes known as a “zombie knife”, “zombie killer knife” or “zombie slayer” being a blade with:

(i) a cutting edge;

(ii) a serrated edge; and

(iii) images or words (whether on the blade or handle) that suggests that it is to be used for the purposes of

(t) the weapon sometimes known as a “cyclone knife” or “spiral knife” being a weapon with;

(i) a handle,

(ii) a blade with two or more cutting edges, each of which forms a helix, and (iii) a sharp point at the end of the blade.

As with other areas of law relating to weapons, there are a number of exemptions though. The offence does not apply to antique weapons, that is those that are at least 100 years old, and this applies to all categories. The category that might feature mostly in collections could be under sub-section r – swords with curved blades. The exemption applied to swords in this category requires only that the item was made before 1954, or that it was made at any time according to traditional methods of making swords by hand. Other exemptions apply to items used in religious ceremonies or dress, or theatrical performances and the production of films and TV programmes.

Another point relates to the specific item, and whether it actually falls within the definition in the Act. A knuckle duster for instance must be designed to cause injury. A piece of jewellery into which two or more fingers could be fitted, might be thought to be a knuckle duster, because it could possibly be used as one, but if made for an innocent purpose, rather than to cause injury, would it properly conform to the definition of an offensive weapon?

It can be seen therefore that the specific nature of an item, the age and method of manufacture can be crucial to a defence to an allegation that an offensive weapon was kept in a private place, and these aspects should be very carefully considered.

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