Offensive Weapons Bill (HC Bill 232)

A

BILL

TO

Make provision for and in connection with offences relating to offensive
weapons.

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Sale and delivery of corrosive products

1 Sale of corrosive products to persons under 18

(1) A person commits an offence if they sell a corrosive product to a person who is
under the age of 18.

(2) 5Subject to section 2, it is a defence for a person charged in England and Wales
or Northern Ireland with an offence under subsection (1) to prove that they
took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the
commission of the offence.

(3) Except where section 2 applies, it is a defence for a person (“the accused”)
10charged in Scotland with an offence under subsection (1) to show that—

(a) the accused believed the person to whom the corrosive product was
sold (“the purchaser”) to be aged 18 or over, and

(b) either the accused had taken reasonable steps to establish the
purchaser’s age or no reasonable person could have suspected from the
15purchaser’s appearance that the purchaser was under the age of 18.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (3)(b), the accused is to be treated as having
taken reasonable steps to establish the purchaser’s age if and only if—

(a) the accused was shown any of the documents mentioned in subsection
(5), and

(b) 20the document would have convinced a reasonable person.

(5) Those documents are any document bearing to be—

(a) a passport,

(b) a European Union photocard driving licence, or

Offensive Weapons BillPage 2

(c) such other document, or a document of such other description, as the
Scottish Ministers may prescribe by order.

(6) The accused is to be taken to have shown a matter mentioned in subsection (3)
if—

(a) 5sufficient evidence of the matter is adduced to raise an issue with
respect to it, and

(b) the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

(7) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable—

(a) on summary conviction in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a
10term not exceeding 51 weeks, to a fine or to both;

(b) on summary conviction in Scotland or Northern Ireland, to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, to a fine not
exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to both.

(8) In relation to an offence committed before the coming into force of section
15281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the reference in subsection (7)(a) to 51
weeks is to be read as a reference to 6 months.

(9) In this section and sections 2 to 4 “corrosive product” means—

(a) a substance listed in the first column of Schedule 1, or

(b) a product which contains a substance listed in the first column of that
20Schedule in a concentration higher than the limit set out for that
substance in the second column of that Schedule.

(10) The appropriate national authority may by regulations amend Schedule 1 by
adding, modifying or removing a reference to a substance or a concentration
limit.

(11) 25In subsection (10) “the appropriate national authority” means—

(a) in relation to England and Wales and Scotland, the Secretary of State,
and

(b) in relation to Northern Ireland, the Department of Justice in Northern
Ireland.

2 30Defence to remote sale of corrosive products to persons under 18

(1) This section applies if—

(a) a person (“the seller”) is charged with an offence under section 1 (sale
of corrosive products to persons under 18), and

(b) the seller was not in the presence of the person (“the buyer”) to whom
35the product to which the charge relates was sold at the time of the sale.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) the seller was not in the presence of the
buyer at the time of the sale if—

(a) where the seller is an individual, the seller or a person acting on the
seller’s behalf was not in the presence of the buyer at that time;

(b) 40where the seller is not an individual, a person acting on the seller’s
behalf was not in the presence of the buyer at that time.

(3) If the seller is charged with the offence in England and Wales or Northern
Ireland, the seller is not to be regarded as having proved that they took all
reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the
45commission of the offence unless, as a minimum, they prove that the
conditions in subsections (6) to (9) are met.

Offensive Weapons BillPage 3

(4) If the seller is charged with the offence in Scotland, it is a defence for the seller
to show that the conditions in subsections (6) to (9) are met.

(5) For the purposes of subsection (4) the seller is to be taken to have shown a
matter mentioned in subsections (6) to (9) if—

(a) 5sufficient evidence of the matter is adduced to raise an issue with
respect to it, and

(b) the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

(6) Condition A is that, at the time the offence is alleged to have been committed—

(a) the seller operated a system for checking that persons who bought
10corrosive products by the same or a similar method of purchase to that
used by the buyer were not under the age of 18, and

(b) that system was likely to prevent persons under the age of 18 from
buying corrosive products by that method.

(7) Condition B is that when the package containing the corrosive product was
15dispatched by the seller, it was clearly marked to indicate—

(a) that it contained a corrosive product, and

(b) that, when finally delivered, it should only be delivered into the hands
of a person aged 18 or over.

(8) Condition C is that the seller took all reasonable precautions and exercised all
20due diligence to ensure that, when finally delivered, the package would be
delivered into the hands of a person aged 18 or over.

(9) Condition D is that the seller did not deliver the package, or arrange for its
delivery, to a locker.

(10) Where the corrosive product was dispatched by the seller to a place from
25which it was to be collected by the buyer or a person acting on behalf of the
buyer, references in subsections (7) and (8) to the final delivery of the product
are to be read as its supply to the buyer or a person acting on behalf of the
buyer from that place.

(11) In subsection (9) “locker” means a lockable container to which the package was
30delivered with a view to its collection by the buyer, or a person acting on behalf
of the buyer, in accordance with arrangements made between the seller and the
buyer.

3 Delivery of corrosive products to residential premises etc

(1) This section applies if—

(a) 35a person (“the seller”) sells a corrosive product to another person (“the
buyer”), and

(b) the seller and the buyer are not in each other’s presence at the time of
the sale.

(2) The seller commits an offence if, for the purposes of supplying the corrosive
40product to the buyer, the seller delivers the product, or arranges for its
delivery, to residential premises.

(3) The seller commits an offence if, for the purposes of supplying the corrosive
product to the buyer, the seller delivers the product, or arranges for its
delivery, to a locker.

Offensive Weapons BillPage 4

(4) For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) a person (“A”) is not in the presence of
another person (“B”) at any time if—

(a) where A is an individual, A or a person acting on behalf of A is not in
the presence of B at that time;

(b) 5where A is not an individual, a person acting on behalf of A is not in the
presence of B at that time.

(5) In subsection (2) “residential premises” means premises used solely for
residential purposes.

(6) The circumstances where premises are not residential premises for the
10purposes of that subsection include, in particular, where a person carries on a
business from the premises.

(7) In subsection (3) “locker” means a lockable container to which the corrosive
product is delivered with a view to its collection by the buyer, or a person
acting on behalf of the buyer, in accordance with arrangements made between
15the seller and the buyer.

(8) It is a defence for a person charged in England and Wales or Northern Ireland
with an offence under this section to prove that they took all reasonable
precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of the
offence.

(9) 20It is a defence for a person charged in Scotland with an offence under this
section to show that they took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due
diligence to avoid the commission of the offence.

(10) A person is to be taken to have shown a matter mentioned in subsection (9) if—

(a) sufficient evidence of the matter is adduced to raise an issue with
25respect to it, and

(b) the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

(11) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a) on summary conviction in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a
term not exceeding 51 weeks, to a fine or to both;

(b) 30on summary conviction in Scotland or Northern Ireland, to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, to a fine not
exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to both.

(12) In relation to an offence committed before the coming into force of section
281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the reference in subsection (11)(a) to 51
35weeks is to be read as a reference to 6 months.

4 Delivery of corrosive products to persons under 18

(1) This section applies if—

(a) a person (“the seller”) sells a corrosive product to another person (“the
buyer”),

(b) 40the seller and the buyer are not in each other’s presence at the time of
the sale and the seller is outside the United Kingdom at that time,

(c) before the sale, the seller entered into an arrangement with a person
who is a body corporate by which the person agreed to deliver
corrosive products for the seller,

(d) 45that person was aware when they entered into the arrangement that it
covered the delivery of corrosive products, and

Offensive Weapons BillPage 5

(e) that person delivers the corrosive product pursuant to that
arrangement.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) a person (“A”) is not in the presence of
another person (“B”) at any time if—

(a) 5where A is an individual, A or a person acting on behalf of A is not in
the presence of B at that time;

(b) where A is not an individual, a person acting on behalf of A is not in the
presence of B at that time.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) a person other than an individual is
10outside the United Kingdom at any time if the person does not carry on a
business of selling articles of any kind from premises in any part of the United
Kingdom at that time.

(4) The person mentioned in subsection (1)(e) is guilty of an offence if, when they
deliver the corrosive product, they do not deliver it into the hands of a person
15aged 18 or over.

(5) It is a defence for a person charged in England and Wales or Northern Ireland
with an offence under subsection (4) to prove that they took all reasonable
precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid the commission of the
offence.

(6) 20It is a defence for a person (“the accused”) charged in Scotland with an offence
under subsection (4) to show that—

(a) the accused believed the person into whose hands the corrosive
product was delivered to be aged 18 or over, and

(b) either the accused had taken reasonable steps to establish the person’s
25age or no reasonable person could have suspected from the person’s
appearance that the person was under the age of 18.

(7) For the purposes of subsection (6)(b), the accused is to be treated as having
taken reasonable steps to establish the person’s age if and only if—

(a) the accused was shown any of the documents mentioned in subsection
30(8), and

(b) the document would have convinced a reasonable person.

(8) Those documents are any document bearing to be—

(a) a passport,

(b) a European Union photocard driving licence, or

(c) 35such other document, or a document of such other description, as the
Scottish Ministers may prescribe by order.

(9) The accused is to be taken to have shown a matter mentioned in subsection (6)
if—

(a) sufficient evidence of the matter is adduced to raise an issue with
40respect to it, and

(b) the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

(10) A person who is guilty of an offence under subsection (4) is liable—

(a) on summary conviction in England and Wales, to a fine;

(b) on summary conviction in Scotland or Northern Ireland, to a fine not
45exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.

Offensive Weapons BillPage 6

Possession of corrosive substances

5 Offence of having a corrosive substance in a public place

(1) A person commits an offence if they have a corrosive substance with them in a
public place.

(2) 5It is a defence for a person charged in England and Wales or Northern Ireland
with an offence under subsection (1) to prove that they had good reason or
lawful authority for having the corrosive substance with them in a public
place.

(3) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2), it is a defence for a person
10charged in England and Wales or Northern Ireland with an offence under
subsection (1) to prove that they had the corrosive substance with them for use
at work.

(4) It is a defence for a person charged in Scotland with an offence under
subsection (1) to show that they had a reasonable excuse or lawful authority for
15having the corrosive substance with them in a public place.

(5) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (4), it is a defence for a person
charged in Scotland with an offence under subsection (1) to show that they had
the corrosive substance with them for use at work.

(6) A person is to be taken to have shown a matter mentioned in subsection (4) or
20(5) if—

(a) sufficient evidence of the matter is adduced to raise an issue with
respect to it, and

(b) the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

(7) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable—

(a) 25on summary conviction in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a
term not exceeding 12 months, to a fine or to both;

(b) on summary conviction in Scotland, to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding 12 months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or
to both;

(c) 30on summary conviction in Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a
term not exceeding 6 months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory
maximum or to both;

(d) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding
4 years, to a fine or to both.

(8) 35In relation to an offence committed before the coming into force of section
154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (maximum sentence that may be
imposed on summary conviction of offence triable either way) the reference in
subsection (7)(a) to 12 months is to be read as a reference to 6 months.

(9) In this section—

  • 40“corrosive substance” means a substance which is capable of burning
    human skin by corrosion;

  • “public place”, in relation to England and Wales or Northern Ireland,
    includes any place to which, at the time in question, the public have or
    are permitted access, whether on payment or otherwise;

  • 45“public place”, in relation to Scotland, means any place other than
    premises occupied as a private dwelling (including any stair, passage,

    Offensive Weapons BillPage 7

    garden, yard, garage, outhouse or other appurtenance of such premises
    which is not used in common by the occupants of more than one such
    dwelling).

(10) See sections 6 and 7 for provisions requiring a court in England and Wales to
5impose an appropriate custodial sentence in certain cases.

6 Appropriate custodial sentence for conviction under section 5

(1) This section applies where—

(a) a person is convicted of an offence under section 5(1) by a court in
England and Wales, and

(b) 10when the offence was committed, the person—

(i) was aged 16 or over, and

(ii) had at least one relevant conviction (see section 7).

(2) The court must impose an appropriate custodial sentence (with or without a
fine) unless the court is of the opinion that there are particular circumstances
15which—

(a) relate to the offence, to the previous offence or to the offender, and

(b) would make it unjust to do so in all the circumstances.

(3) An “appropriate custodial sentence” is—

(a) in the case of person who is aged 18 or over when convicted, a sentence
20of imprisonment for a term of at least 6 months;

(b) in the case of a person who is aged 16 or 17 when convicted, a detention
and training order of at least 4 months.

(4) In the case of a person aged 16 or 17, in considering whether it is of the opinion
mentioned in subsection (2) the court must have regard to its duty under
25section 44 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (general
considerations).

(5) Subsection (6) applies where—

(a) an appropriate custodial sentence has been imposed on a person under
subsection (2), and

(b) 30a relevant conviction which resulted in subsection (2) applying to that
person has subsequently been set aside on appeal.

(6) Notice of appeal against the sentence may be given at any time within the
period of 28 days beginning with the day after the day on which the relevant
conviction was set aside (despite anything in section 18 of the Criminal Appeal
35Act 1968 (initiating procedure)).

(7) This section applies only to an offence committed on or after the day on which
this section came into force.

(8) Where an offence is found to have been committed—

(a) over a period of two or more days, or

(b) 40at some time during a period of two or more days,

it is to be taken for the purposes of this section to have been committed on the
last of those days.

(9) Before the coming into force of paragraph 180 of Schedule 7 to the Criminal
Justice and Court Services Act 2000, the reference in subsection (3)(a) to a
45sentence of imprisonment, in relation to an offender under the age of 21 at the

Offensive Weapons BillPage 8

time of conviction, is to be read as a reference to a sentence of detention in a
young offender institution.

7 Offence under section 5: relevant convictions

(1) In section 6 “relevant conviction” means—

(a) 5a conviction for an offence under—

(i) section 1 or 1A of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 (offences
relating to offensive weapons),

(ii) section 139, 139A or 139AA of the Criminal Justice Act 1988
(offences relating to bladed articles and offensive weapons), or

(iii) 10section 5 of this Act,

(a “relevant offence”),

(b) a conviction in Scotland, Northern Ireland or a member State other than
the United Kingdom for a civilian offence which would have
constituted a relevant offence if committed in England and Wales at the
15time of that conviction,

(c) a conviction for an offence under section 42 of the Armed Forces Act
2006 in respect of which the corresponding offence under the law of
England and Wales (within the meaning of that section) is a relevant
offence,

(d) 20a conviction for an offence under section 70 of the Army Act 1955,
section 70 of the Air Force Act 1955 or section 42 of the Naval Discipline
Act 1957 in respect of which the corresponding civilian offence (within
the meaning of the Act in question) is a relevant offence, or

(e) a conviction for a member State service offence which would have
25constituted a relevant offence if committed in England and Wales at the
time of conviction.

(2) References in subsection (1) to a conviction for an offence are to a conviction for
an offence regardless of when it was committed.

(3) In this section—

  • 30“civilian offence” means an offence other than—

    (a)

    an offence under an enactment mentioned in subsection (1)(c)
    or (d), or

    (b)

    a member State service offence;

  • “conviction” includes—

    (a)

    35in relation to an offence under section 42 of the Armed Forces
    Act 2006, anything which by virtue of section 376(1) and (2) of
    that Act is to be treated as a conviction, and

    (b)

    in relation to an offence under section 42 of the Naval Discipline
    Act 1957 and a member State service offence, a finding of guilt
    40in respect of the person;

  • “member State service offence” means an offence which was the subject of
    proceedings under the law of a member State, other than the United
    Kingdom, governing all or any of the naval, military or air forces of that
    State.

(4) 45For the purposes of subsection (1)(c) and (d), where the offence was committed
by aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring, it must be assumed that the act
aided, abetted, counselled or procured was done in England and Wales.

Offensive Weapons BillPage 9

8 Search for corrosive substances: England and Wales

(1) Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (power of constable to
stop and search persons, vehicles etc) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2), after “any article to which subsection (8A) below applies”
5insert “, any substance to which subsection (8AA) below applies”.

(3) In subsection (3), after “any article to which subsection (8A) below applies”
insert “, any substance to which subsection (8AA) below applies”.

(4) In subsection (6), after “an article to which subsection (8A) below applies”
insert “, a substance to which subsection (8AA) below applies”.

(5) 10After subsection (8A) insert—

(8AA) This subsection applies to any substance in relation to which a person
has committed, or is committing or is going to commit an offence under
section 5 of the Offensive Weapons Act 2018 (offence of having a
corrosive substance in a public place).

(8AB) 15In this section references to such a substance include an article which
contains such a substance.”

9 Search for corrosive substances: Scotland

(1) This section applies if a constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a
person—

(a) 20is carrying a corrosive substance, and

(b) has committed or is committing an offence under section 5.

(2) The constable may search the person without warrant, and detain the person
for such time as is reasonably required to permit the search to be carried out.

(3) If in the course of the search the constable finds a substance which the
25constable reasonably suspects to be a corrosive substance, the constable may
seize and retain the substance and any article in which it is contained.

(4) If a constable detains a person under this section the constable must inform the
person of the reason for doing so.

(5) A person commits an offence if the person—

(a) 30intentionally obstructs a constable in the exercise of the constable’s
powers under this section, or

(b) conceals a corrosive substance from a constable acting in the exercise of
those powers.

(6) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (5) is liable on summary
35conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.

(7) In this section “corrosive substance” has the same meaning as in section 5.

10 Search for corrosive substances: Northern Ireland

(1) Article 3 of the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 (SI
1989/1341 (NI 12)) (power of constable to stop and search persons, vehicles etc)
40is amended in accordance with subsections (2) to (5).