Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Nicholas Riley, MD Blades and Bows Ltd (OWB28)

As an online retailer of knives and swords for the last 11 years this is my thoughts on the proposed amendments to the offensive weapons act.

In my opinion it will be completely ineffective at stopping knife crime. The only impact will be to knife dealers and knife users / collectors.

Criminals will use whatever is cheap and available to commit crimes. Whether it is a hunting knife, a kitchen knife, a hammer or a bottle of acid really makes no difference.

I am sure if all the above items were banned criminals would just turn to sticks with nails knocked through.

There will always be a minority of under age people who will find ways of getting round any age restriction on any product whether it is purchased online or in a retail store.

Sending a friend 18 or over to do a face to face purchase is hardly difficult. Nor is stealing the item from a shop or parents kitchen draw.

Laws already exist to punish retailers who flout age restriction but it seems they are never used. We employ a member of staff whose only purpose is to run age checks on our new and existing customer sales.

With wages and a paid for age check system   cost to our business is approx £25,000 per year to run what we deem a satisfactory age check process.

So we, as do many other online retailers take our responsibility very seriously.

The down side of banning mail order excluding the damage already caused to our business as we are struggling to break even in an attempt to clear stocks are :

1. We are dumping stock as we feel there will be no business when the proposed laws come in.

2. By reducing our prices to cost or very close we are flooding the UK with large amounts of product in a very short time.

3. Mail order companies keep a large database of items sold, to who, to where. We hold customer information back to day one of opening.

4. When we close the database will be gone.

We have been able to provide information to various police forces around the UK in helping identify knives used in crimes, and where the item was purchased from ourselves we have provided names, addresses, payment details of the purchaser. Even if the sale took place several years ago.

With a retail shop where the item is payed for in cash you have zero information. Even if the item was purchased yesterday the best you can hope for is "some bloke in jeans and a black hoodie bought it".

So mail order when run correctly offers all the benefits of the RFD (registered fire arms dealer) system which requires all gun sellers to log customer details but we do it with zero cost to the government or police.

While I feel the decision on this matter has already been made I think it is nothing more than a media show which will make a few people feel safe but have a zero effect on crime. So we will continue to dump as much stock as possible ( approx £500,000 at cost left to go) in an attempt to salvage what we can, then hopefully be in a position to close by Christmas.

It would be far preferable that the government used existing laws to severely punish people committing the crimes, whether they be people stabbing and robbing their way round London or any business that thinks age checks are too much cost or hassle to bother with.

But what do I know as I am merely a tax paying minion.

Best regards

Nicholas Riley

MD Blades and Bows Ltd.

10 July 2018


Prepared 17th July 2018