Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Richard Tanner, Executive Chairman Outdoor365 Limited (OWB184)

Outdoor365 Limited are an online retailer of personal tools and equipment including pocket multitools and knives (including kitchen, sports, first responder and utility knives). We sell over 10,000 age restricted items a year and employ stringent verification processes. We therefore have considerable interest and experience in the matters re bladed products in the proposed Bill.

SUMMARY

In this submission we address the Bill in relation to the online sale and delivery of bladed articles. We support the initiative and objective of the Bill but believe that it could be considerably improved in both its legal clarity and in attaining its objectives.

COMMENTS

Clause 12 Section (3)(4) – We agree this is a sensible tightening and clarification of the law on the standard for age verification and reflects current best practise.

Clause 12 Section (3)(5) – While ostensibly sensible we are concerned that highlighting the contents could put the item at risk of being intercepted illicitly including by someone underage.

Clause 15 – We believe this clause is retrogressive. Concerns include;

· Using the home address is a key part of online age verification systems and subsequent delivery to an age verified person at their confirmed address provides additional assurance.

· The proposal reduces consumer choice, particularly impacting those less physically or economically mobile and/or in rural communities.

· It will force consumers to carry knifes through public areas on transit from collection to their residence.

· It is not certain that any business will even offer this service, it is possible that it may be prohibitively expensive or even not offered which would result in the closure of legitimate and responsible online retailers.

· This clause appears to have been added in response to concerns that online retailers are not complying with the current law on verifying age at the point of sale. We would suggest that the solution to none compliance of an existing law is more effective enforcement of the existing law rather than new laws.

Clause 16 – We appreciate the intent to exclude certain legitimate uses, however the excluded uses are a very small minority and effectively a smokescreen to cover that the bulk of legitimate uses are not excluded. In particular;

· Kitchen knives, legitimately used by every household, but will now be classed as an ‘Offensive Weapon’

· Pocket multitools (e.g. Leatherman tools), used extensively by fishermen, sailors, electricians, event workers etc, now classed as an ‘Offensive Weapon’

· Utility knifes, e.g. box cutters, used by all warehouse workers) and first responder knifes (used by paramedics, firemen etc) now classed as ‘Offensive Weapons’.

Clause 17 – As responsible retailers we are keen to comply with the law. However the definition in clause 17 is so vague that this is near impossible. There are many items that have a blade and are capable of cutting a persons skin, including scissors and many garden tools.

CONCLUSION

The Home Office (e.g. in a response to a Petition to remove article 15) have stated: The prohibition on the delivery of knives to residential addresses is now limited to those knives that can cause serious injury.

The Right Hon Sajid Javid in the debate on 27 June 2018 stated; As I talk a bit more about the Bill, it will become clear that the right types of reasonable defence will absolutely be in place. For example, knife sales to businesses and for other legitimate use will remain unaffected.

It is clear from the public statements being made by the Government and by the Hon Sajid Javid that it is the intent that bladed products for legitimate use should not be caught by this new legislation, however with the limited exemptions in Clause 16 and vague definition in Clause 17 this will not be the outcome.

At Outdoor365 we sell over 10,000 bladed products annually, all for legitimate purposes, kitchen knives, multitools, utility knives, etc. As the bill is currently drafted I believe that all of these will now be classified as ‘Offensive Weapons’ and require to comply with the full requirements of this Bill.

September 2018

 

Prepared 12th September 2018