Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Roger Creagh-Osborne (OWB109)

Executive Summary:

· Section 16 (Defences to Offence under section 15 delivery of Bladed products to Residential Premises) sub-section 4 should have added "for agricultural or conservation use or " after "…bladed product" and before "for relevant sporting…" so that the whole clause reads:

(4) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under section 15 to prove that they reasonably believed that the buyer bought the bladed product for use for agricultural or conservation use or for relevant sporting purposes or for the purposes of historical re-enactment.

Introduction:

I have a small non-commercial fruit farm (approx. 1.1Ha) which I run on a zero-carbon basis

Information

1. I use a scythe to manage the grass in the orchard areas of my holding. I occasionally need replacement scythe blades which are a specialist item not available from normal retailers and are delivered by post from the importer to my residential address (I have no business address).

2. I also have other friends in the scything community who are in the same position with small non-commercial agricultural or horticultural holdings using the scythe as part of their grassland management, not registered as a business and using their home address to received goods ordered. This may include axes and knives for woodworking as well as scythe blades.

3. I know other individuals who teach scything as a craft skill, again on a non-commercial basis who purchase equipment by mail order in order to have a stock to run courses.

4. Additionally many scythe users are volunteers with nature conservation trusts and similar organisations (including maintaining the grass in churchyards) and will also be receiving blades to their residential address.

5. It is extremely unlikely that anyone would seek to acquire a scythe blade as an offensive weapon. The nature of a scythe blade is such that you would be more likely to damage yourself than an indented victim. It would be extremely unwieldy as a weapon.

6. None of these are large scale purchasers, as with sporting blades (presumably fencing etc) and historic re-enactment, the users are adult individuals purchasing for their own personal use, in this case as a working tool.

7. The proposed wording of section 15 and the defences allowed under section 16 do not currently allow for this sort of small scale non-commercial use of bladed products as an expert tool.

8. I propose that the defences under section 16 should be expanded to include agricultural and conservation use alongside sporting and historical re-enactment.

9. As a very straightforward amendment the words "for agricultural or conservation use" could be added to the allowed defences under section 16 (4)

PROPOSAL

10. I propose that Section 16 (4) should be amended to read:
(4) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under section 15 to prove that they reasonably believed that the buyer bought the bladed product for use for agricultural or conservation use or for relevant sporting purposes or for the purposes of historical re-enactment.

July 2018

 

Prepared 13th August 2018