Government introduces bill to tackle knife crime and acid attacks

The Home Secretary introduced new legislation on Wednesday (June 20) to ban the delivery of knives and corrosives bought online to residential addresses.

According to the British Independent Retailers Association (bira), the new Offensive Weapons Bill will make it harder for young people to buy knives and acid online, with sellers requiring rigorous age verification to prove those purchasing knives or corrosives are aged over 18. Failure to do so will leave them liable for prosecution.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: “It is totally wrong that young people are able to get their hands on dangerous weapons such as knives and harmful acids. That is why we are making the laws around this even tighter. Earlier this week I saw the great work our frontline police officers do to keep our communities safe – and I am determined to do everything I can to help them keep weapons off our streets.”

The bill will:

  • create a new criminal offence of selling (both online and offline) a corrosive product to a person under the age of 18. The substances and concentration levels of what constitutes a corrosive product are set out in the bill;
  • create a new criminal offence of possessing a corrosive substance in a public place – there is a defence of possessing the corrosive substance for good reason;
  • create new criminal offences prohibiting the dispatch of bladed products and corrosive products sold online to a residential address. The offence for bladed products is limited to those that can cause serious injury and includes defences for made-to-order items and those for sporting and re-enactment purposes;
  • create new criminal offences on delivery companies of delivering a bladed article or a corrosive product on behalf of a seller based outside the UK to a person under 18;
  • update the definition of a flick knife and prohibit the possession of flick knives and gravity knives (their sale is already prohibited);
  • amend section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 to make it a criminal offence to possess certain offensive weapons (such as knuckledusters and zombie knives);
  • extend the existing offences of possessing a bladed article or offensive weapon on school premises to cover further education premises;
  • amend the legal test for the offence of threatening with an offensive weapon to aid prosecution;
  • prohibit high energy and rapid firing firearms and a device known as a ‘bump stock’ which increases the rate of fire of rifles and provide for compensation for owners of such weapons.

Documents related to the Offensive Weapons Bill can be found on the Parliament website.

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