Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Phil Proctor, MD for Robert Sorby Ltd (OWB38)

I am the MD for Robert Sorby and have been with the company for around 38 years, my farther before me was with Sorby for 50 years.

We have been Making Edge tools for over 200 years. In Sheffield we are just 1 of many manufacturers making edge tools of some description or another.

In the UK there are literally 100s of stores with mail order that sell our product on line.

These are woodworking tools, carving tools, bench chisels, framing chisels, woodturning tools, carving knifes to name a few. In the UK and especially in Sheffield you have many who produce cutlery and sell on line.

Our parent company (Spear and Jackson) employ around 400 folk, many of their products also have a cutting edge, the bill will result in a lot of these being put out of work.

As you will know Sheffield is famous for Cutlery and woodworking tools ( you will know the cutlers hall and master cutlers )

As well as being a factory employing 40 we have a shop in Doncaster where 60% of its trade is on line. 80% of the on line sales are tools with a cutting edge.

This Bill would destroy our factory and shop putting 50 out of work. We sell around £5 million in edge tools and pay a lot of Taxes as we are very profitable, not only would you lose the tax from the company but also from the 50 employees.

From a Robert Sorby point of view the bill would result in closure of our factory and mail order shop.

This Bill is Just plain stupid, its short sighted and a knee jerk reaction to the knife crime. We all know that most knifes used in knife crime come from the kitchen drawer at home. DO we really think the sort of folk that commit knife crime are going to go on line and buy very expensive woodworking tools. I think not.

Go on YouTube there are 100s of videos that show folk how to make knifes out of many things including a DVD or a coin. Let’s face it there are 100s of items you could stab someone with from a pencil to the blade from a pencil sharpener.

As with all crime the simple answer is to make the punishment fit the crime. Prison is a holiday camp. My good friend is a prison guard, he regular sees folk commit a crime just to get back in to prison. This is not a joke or a fairy story, it’s true, he has prisoners who don’t want to go out in to the world as it’s much harder on the outside than in, he is told many times "if you let me go I will be back later" they literally go out on the street and commit a crime to get back in.

He has even been told on the return of a prisoner to" hurry up with the paperwork as I am missing his gym session".

I have no issue with stopping mail order on hunting knifes, flick knives, daggers and the likes not been available on line. No one makes a living with them.  but let’s not penalise 100s of companies thousands of mail order companies and 10s of thousands of end users that use hand tools for the sake of a handful of mindless morons. Or are we going to allow the few to destroy a hundred thousand  honest hard working people’s lives by putting them out of work.

Honestly if its 10 that get stabbed each year it’s worth the price, those getting stabbed are in most cases the very same people that carry a knife.

WE are very busy and I could continue for hours on this. I will cut it short but if I can be of further help please contact me.   

Kind regards


Phil Proctor
Robert Sorby Ltd

10 July 2018


Prepared 17th July 2018