Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Steven Mould, Director and Co-founder of Flint and Flame – trading name for The Wellness Tree Ltd (OWB153)

Written evidence submitted by Steven Mould, Director and Co-founder of Flint and Flame – trading name for The Wellness Tree Ltd

1. Steven Mould former Metropolitan & Surrey Police officer with over 18 years’ experience predominantly in uniform on the streets of urban London and suburban Surrey. Founder of Flint and Flame Limited trading over 8 years with over £1,000,000 annual Turnover Company employing 10 + personnel.

2. Flint and Flame Ltd. Established in 2010 is a family owned and managed business. Distributor of high quality Kitchen Knives, Scissors and kitchenware products. Our customers are principally end user customers, home cooks who enjoy cooking and learning new tips, using our high quality kitchen products. These products are distributed through demonstrations at over 300 local and national consumer shows/exhibitions across the UK. Our booths and stands are staffed by our experienced Distributors many who a former professional Chefs, demonstrating their knife handling skills and giving good advice on general skills needed in the kitchen. As a consequence of this style of presentation we are proud of our over 30,000 loyal customers who naturally continue to purchase online to add to their collection of knives.

My background as a ‘street’ Police officer in London for over 18 years and subsequent retirement to start a business distributing high quality kitchen knives through a responsible and ethical manner, I believe gives me a unique perspective to make some key observations on section 15 of the Bill – specifically the delivery of bladed products to residential premises etc.

My former Police service in London placed me at the very coalface and I’ve seen the devastation that knives (or any weapon) in the wrong hands can do and agree with many of the proposals in the bill. However a blanket banning of delivery of bladed products to residential premises is NOT the answer. Criminals that use knives and who you are understandably trying to stop from getting their hands on knives will not go online to buy a high quality kitchen knife in order to commit a crime. Criminals that carry knives will either in my considerable experience steal them or buy a cheap knife from a store that probably have inexperienced sales staff.

• Online sales if followed properly by an ethical business and relevant records kept is the safest way to sell a bladed product. I submit that no criminal will want to give their full details that can be tracked. A more reasonable requirement would be, providing proof of identity on line through scanned Driving licensee or Passport which we can easily make a mandatory requirement and then delivery to the address shown on that ID will be more effective.

• Continuing to maintain accurate records of existing age verified customers, kept according to GDPR regulations, will allow existing customers to re-purchase online with ease.

• Delivery of products sold at a show/exhibition face to face and identity and age verified should allow for delivery to that customers address.

• Our staff can be required to see formal identification at point of sale in order to process an order.

• Deliveries to ANY premises will need a signature by the addressee.

• Adding age verification to the signature requirement at delivery is recommended and good practice, I’m confident our shipping partners can help achieve this requirement.

• The many thousands of law abiding citizens should not be penalised from buying a product and supporting their favoured business when alternative methods of checking in a digital age are readily available.

Over 50% of the Flint and Flame business is delivered to a residential address, we currently provide this service through a secure courier. Our engaged database of over 30,000 customers who have bought at a show and naturally want the convenience of having that purchase and further product delivered direct to them. These customers are law abiding citizens and this heavy handed approach will affect both them and our business. These requirements will put into question the viability of our company that has steadily been building a database that enjoys the interaction we have with them. I would ask that this section is amended accordingly and that professional companies such as ourselves are not penalised. Guidelines to verify the end user as suggested above will achieve the goal of controlling the availability of knives to those bent on crime without devastating our businesses and many more like us who will also be severely affected and I urge you to reconsider the tone of Section 15 of the Bill .

Warm regards

Steven Mould

August 2018

 

Prepared 30th August 2018