Offensive Weapons Bill (HC Bill 265)

A

BILL

[AS AMENDED IN PUBLIC BILL COMMITTEE]

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—

Offensive Weapons BillPage 2

(a) a passport,

(b) a European Union photocard driving licence, or

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

(6) 5The accused is to be taken to have shown a matter mentioned in subsection (3)
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) 10A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) 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) on summary conviction in Scotland or Northern Ireland, to
imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, to a fine not
15exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to both.

(8) 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 (7)(a) to 51
weeks is to be read as a reference to 6 months.

(9) In Scotland, proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) may be
20commenced within the period of 12 months beginning with the commission of
the offence.

(10) Section 136(3) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (date when
proceedings deemed to be commenced) applies for the purposes of subsection
(9) as it applies for the purposes of that section.

(11) 25In 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
Schedule in a concentration higher than the limit set out for that
substance in the second column of that Schedule.

(12) 30The appropriate national authority may by regulations amend Schedule 1 by
adding, modifying or removing a reference to a substance or a concentration
limit.

(13) In subsection (12) “the appropriate national authority” means—

(a) in relation to England and Wales and Scotland, the Secretary of State,
35and

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

(14) See section 5 for provisions about presumptions as to the content of containers
in proceedings in Scotland.

2 40Defence 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
45the product to which the charge relates was sold at the time of the sale.

Offensive Weapons BillPage 3

(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) 5where 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
10commission of the offence unless, as a minimum, they prove that the
conditions in subsections (6) to (9) are met.

(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
15matter mentioned in subsections (6) to (9) 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.

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

(a) 20the seller operated a system for checking that persons who bought
corrosive 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) 25Condition B is that when the package containing the corrosive product was
dispatched 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) 30Condition C is that the seller took all reasonable precautions and exercised all
due 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) 35Where the corrosive product was dispatched by the seller to a place from
which 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) 40In subsection (9) “locker” means a lockable container to which the package was
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 the seller and the
buyer.

3 Delivery of corrosive products to residential premises etc

(1) 45This section applies if—

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(a) a 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) 5The 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 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
10delivery, to a locker.

(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) 15where 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
20purposes 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
25the 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) 30It 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
35respect 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) 40on 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
45weeks is to be read as a reference to 6 months.

Offensive Weapons BillPage 5

(13) In Scotland, proceedings for an offence under this section may be commenced
within the period of 12 months beginning with the commission of the offence.

(14) Section 136(3) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (date when
proceedings deemed to be commenced) applies for the purposes of subsection
5(13) as it applies for the purposes of that section.

(15) See section 5 for provisions about presumptions as to the content of containers
in proceedings in Scotland.

4 Delivery of corrosive products to persons under 18

(1) This section applies if—

(a) 10a person (“the seller”) sells a corrosive product to another person (“the
buyer”),

(b) the 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
15who is a body corporate by which the person agreed to deliver
corrosive products for the seller,

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

(e) that person delivers the corrosive product pursuant to that
20arrangement.

(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) 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) 25where 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
outside 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
30Kingdom at that time.

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

(5) It is a defence for a person charged in England and Wales or Northern Ireland
35with 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) It is a defence for a person (“the accused”) charged in Scotland with an offence
under subsection (4) to show that—

(a) 40the 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
age or no reasonable person could have suspected from the person’s
appearance that the person was under the age of 18.

(7) 45For 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—

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

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

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

(a) 5a passport,

(b) a European Union photocard driving licence, or

(c) such 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)
10if—

(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.

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

(a) 15on summary conviction in England and Wales, to a fine;

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

(11) In Scotland, proceedings for an offence under this section may be commenced
within the period of 12 months beginning with the commission of the offence.

(12) 20Section 136(3) of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (date when
proceedings deemed to be commenced) applies for the purposes of subsection
(11) as it applies for the purposes of that section.

(13) See section 5 for provisions about presumptions as to the content of containers
in proceedings in Scotland.

5 25Presumptions in proceedings in Scotland for offence under section 1, 3 or 4

(1) This section applies for the purposes of any trial in proceedings for an alleged
offence under section 1(1), 3(2) or (3) or 4(4).

(2) Where—

(a) a substance is found in a container (whether open or sealed), and

(b) 30there is on the container a description of the contents of the container,

the substance found is to be presumed to be a substance of that description.

(3) Where an open container is found which—

(a) is empty or contains an amount of a substance which is insufficient to
allow analysis of it,

(b) 35was sealed at the time it was sold or delivered, and

(c) has on it a description of the contents of the container,

the container is to be presumed to have contained, at the time it was sold or
delivered, a substance of that description.

(4) At the trial, any party to the proceedings may rebut the presumption
40mentioned in subsection (2) or (3) by proving that, at the time of its sale or
delivery, the substance in the container was not of the description on the
container.

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(5) A party may lead evidence for the purpose of rebutting the presumption only
if the party has, not less than 7 days before the date of the trial, given notice of
the intention to do so to the other parties.

Possession of corrosive substances

6 5Offence 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) 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 had good reason or
10lawful 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
charged 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
15at 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
having 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
20charged 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
(5) 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.

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

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

(b) 30on 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) on summary conviction in Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a
term not exceeding 6 months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory
35maximum or to both;

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

(8) In 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
40imposed 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—

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

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  • “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;

  • “public place”, in relation to Scotland, means any place other than
    5premises occupied as a private dwelling (including any stair, passage,
    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—

(a) 10section 7 for provisions about presumptions as to the content of
containers in proceedings in Scotland;

(b) sections 8 and 9 for provisions requiring a court in England and Wales
to impose an appropriate custodial sentence in certain cases.

7 Presumptions in proceedings in Scotland for offence under section 6

(1) 15This section applies for the purposes of any trial in proceedings for an alleged
offence under section 6(1).

(2) Where—

(a) a substance is found in a container (whether open or sealed), and

(b) there is on the container a description of the contents of the container,

20the substance found is to be presumed to be a substance of that description.

(3) Subsection (4) applies where—

(a) an open container is found,

(b) a substance has been poured out of, or otherwise removed from, the
container,

(c) 25the container is empty or contains an amount of the substance
mentioned in paragraph (b) which is insufficient to allow analysis of it,
and

(d) the container has on it a description of its contents.

(4) The container is to be presumed to have contained, immediately before the
30action mentioned in paragraph (b) of subsection (3) was taken, a substance of
the description mentioned in paragraph (d) of that subsection.

(5) At the trial, any party to the proceedings may rebut the presumption
mentioned in subsection (2) or (4) by proving that, at the time the offence is
alleged to have been committed, the substance in the container was not of the
35description on the container.

(6) A party may lead evidence for the purpose of rebutting the presumption only
if the party has, not less than 7 days before the date of the trial, given notice of
the intention to do so to the other parties.

8 Appropriate custodial sentence for conviction under section 6

(1) 40This section applies where—

(a) a person is convicted of an offence under section 6(1) by a court in
England and Wales, and

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

(i) was aged 16 or over, and

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(ii) had at least one relevant conviction (see section 9).

(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
which—

(a) 5relate 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
of imprisonment for a term of at least 6 months;

(b) 10in 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
section 44 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (general
15considerations).

(5) Subsection (6) applies where—

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

(b) a relevant conviction which resulted in subsection (2) applying to that
20person 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
Act 1968 (initiating procedure)).

(7) 25This 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) at some time during a period of two or more days,

30it 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
sentence of imprisonment, in relation to an offender under the age of 21 at the
35time of conviction, is to be read as a reference to a sentence of detention in a
young offender institution.

9 Offence under section 6: relevant convictions

(1) In section 8 “relevant conviction” means—

(a) a conviction for an offence under—

(i) 40section 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) section 6 of this Act,

45(a “relevant offence”),