Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by ‘Tactical Reviews’ (www.tacticalreviews.co.uk) – Richard O’Neill-Roe (OWB56)

This evidence relates to those sections on ‘knives’ and does not concern the other parts of the bill, and is in specific response to the stated purpose of the bill:

1. new restrictions on online sales of bladed articles and corrosive products, including restrictions on deliveries to residential premises;

2. a new offence of possessing certain offensive weapons (the weapons concerned are already subject to restrictions on their sale, manufacture and importation);

3. updating the definition of a flick knife.

Who am I?:

Richard O’Neill-Roe, is the author of Tactical Reviews, an online journal dedicated to testing of Lights, Knives, Every Day Carry items and Tools. I have been actively using and collecting outdoor tools and knives for 35 years, and understand their design and purpose.

With a Master’s Degree in Engineering I am educated in materials and design. I have also been involved in various outdoor activities including shooting and archery and instruct in these disciplines.

Currently I work in IT (to make a living), and am actively involved in the promotion of safe use, maintenance and selection of tools.

Response to 1:

Speaking to online retailers, there is no actual evidence that knives sold online and delivered to residential addresses are used in crime, and none of the retailers I have spoken to have had test purchase failures.

What about other bladed articles? I.e. Gardening tools, axes, machetes, scissors, razor blades. There’s no mention of them, will they be affected?

This has the potential for far reaching and unconsidered implications, adding unnecessary complication in purchasing everyday items. The elderly or disabled will be impacted in particular.

Response to 2:

It appears the intent is to make new restrictions and apply these retrospectively. The retrospective aspect is extremely worrying.

This proposed change will make criminals of law-abiding citizens and persecute people unnecessarily. Crime statistics will be nicely boosted by the law-abiding surrendering their ‘weapons’ while having absolutely no impact on real crime.

Compensation must be provided for possessions made illegal that were previously not illegal.

Even with compensation, the possible ongoing issues of retrospective laws are very worrying.

Take the example of two items I personally own; a balisong knife (purchased before they were banned) and a side handled baton the Monadnock PR-24 (purchased before they were banned). These are legal to possess currently.

If a new law is applied retrospectively, what if I can’t find these items. They may be at the bottom of a drawer, in a box in the loft, and I might not see them again for years, or maybe when I move house. That law would make me a criminal. If I do then find them years later, I should be able to claim compensation for having to surrender them, and also not be penalised for finding them.

Response to 3:

If implemented incorrectly, this could end up making 80% of modern folding knife designs into offensive weapons.

As an expert in the design and use of the tool known as a knife, I can state the following:

· There are designs of folding knife intended to deploy the blade quickly which are not ‘automatic’ or ‘flick’ knives. To the uneducated they may appear so.

· The majority of folding knives now have a one-handed-opening ability via the use of a thumb stud or opening-hole. These are not automatic/flick knives/gravity and the blade is moved into the open position manually. One handed opening is a vital modern safety aspect of the design of folding knives.

· Simple modifications can be made to almost any folding knife to allow the blade to be deployed quickly (typically loosening the pivot), so will you ban all locking folding knives?

This bill may be aimed at banning ‘Assisted Openers’ which are the closest in operation to ‘flick knives’ without being flick knives under the current definition. What is the evidence these are actively used in violent crime?

This bill may be aimed at banning ‘Flippers’ which are similar in apparent operation to ‘flick knives’ without being flick knives at all under the current definition. What is the evidence these are actively used in violent crime?

If this aspect is going to move forward, then the wording must be carefully constructed to not ban all types of folding knife.

However, the majority of ‘knife crime’ is committed with cheap fixed blade kitchen knives. So what is being achieved with this proposed law?

RESPONSE Summary

The bill is fundamentally flawed as it is the reduced police funding preventing our existing (and adequate) laws being enforced – who will enforce these new laws when we already don’t have enough police officers?

The result of this bill will be to make currently law abiding citizens criminals for possessing knives that were previously legal to buy in the UK instead of targeting resources to catch those with genuine criminal intent.

· For a person wishing to use a knife for inflicting injury, a folding knife is a poor choice for exactly the reason that it can fold. A fixed blade is much more reliable.

· In the absence of a knife, the ever inventive human mind WILL find another object to use as a weapon, be it a pair of scissors, a screwdriver, a bicycle spoke, a chisel, a letter opener, a pencil, the list is endless.

10 July 2018

 

Prepared 17th July 2018