Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Simon & Leanne Hengle (OWB119)

Ref: Proposed changes to the Offensive Weapons Bill, Article 15

As both a collector of various knives and Japanese swords and as the owner of a small niche online blade business, I am very concerned about the proposed changes to the Offensive Weapons Bill, particularly Article 15.

As the owner of a small business selling historical replica’s of military and civilian kukri, (copied from both old and antique Kukri I have collected over a long period of time), our Kukri are sold to a range of customers who like myself are collectors and enthusiasts of the Gurkha’s but also, explorers, woodsman/bushcraft enthusiasts, ex veterans and military personnel, including serving and ex Gurkha Officers

Whilst orders for our kukri are placed on our UK based website, the kukri are sent directly from Nepal to our customers all around the world, mostly in the US, but also to the UK and Europe. The cheapest Kukri we sell is £79.50 and the most expensive £159.50. These prices would take our kukri out of the gangland warfare and rise in knife crime culture use. On-top of that, they are too bulky and heavy to conceal.

The demand for our kukri is also such that customers have to place a pre-order for our kukri and have to wait for approximately 4 – 12 months to receive their order.

Our business supports approx. 40 people in Nepal, a country recently decimated by the April 2015 Earthquake. We also raised just under £5k to help with the aftermath of the earthquake and supported a whole village with food for a month.

Not being able to send customers orders direct to their residential address could potentially affect our business and therefore those we support in Nepal.

Where will be be able to send them?? A work address, their local post office? And ultimately, what difference will this make, as the customer will still receive the knife, albeit via a different route.

As a collector of edged weapons, many of which are antique and which I often purchase through online auction houses, I am concerned about how the delivery system is going to work and I feel that with auction houses, there should be an exemption since antique weapons are hardly likely to be used in street crime.

As I write this letter, a news flash has popped up on my Sky News App saying that "Murders and Knife Crime are up in England and Wales by 16%". My question to you is what knives are being used in such knife crime? Are they expensive collectors pieces? Or are they cheap everyday kitchen knifes owned in every kitchen in every household in the country, which anyone has access too (like the picture that was shown on the Sky News article attached).

Any gangland member or thug has access to such kitchen knives, be it from their parents kitchen drawer or local supermarket.

What difference will this new proposed law make to the millions of already existing kitchen knives and other knives in general, in the UK.

This proposed law is rather like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted and where will it stop? If you are trying to make the selling of knives more restricted, then people that use knives for criminal purposes will merely resort to other items, such as scissors, screwdrivers, corkscrews, drill bits, spikes and prison shank type items etc. All of these and many, many others can be used as stabbing implements.

Why should these new proposed laws punish genuine collectors like myself when the knives we collect aren’t even being used in the vast majority of knife crime incidents?

This seems very like a typical Government knee jerk piece of legislation to show that you are trying to do "something" rather than looking into the root causes of why knife crime is on the increase.

You would be well advised to look at the way Glasgow turned itself around in terms of reducing knife crime.

Also there is strong correlation between the increase of knife crime in London in 2016/17 and the reduction of stop and search incidents which is at its lowest in the same time period.

How will this bill also deal with customers who place their orders with companies who are based outside of the UK?

We hope that you will see the value in the points we have raised.

Simon & Leanne Hengle

Tora Kukri

July 2018


Prepared 13th August 2018