Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Napoleonic Association (OWB60)

Dear Sir,

This is Written Evidence for the Napoleonic Association.

Executive Summary

The Napoleonic Association and its members are in full support of measures to tackle the use of corrosive substances and knives in pursuance of a crime and especially their possession by young people. The aim of the Association is to educate the public at events and support heritage sites by providing events which can raise much needed funds. The Association believes that if this bill as drafted is if enacted into law its provisions could be used to curtail the use of replicas of historical artefacts during our events thus reducing the Association’s ability to educate the public.

The Association would like historical re-enactment be specifically included as a defence in the following parts of the Offensive Weapons Bill (HC Bill 232):

• Section 5 – Offence of having a corrosive substance in a Public Place

• Section 20 - Prohibition on the possession of certain dangerous knives

• Section 21 - Prohibition on the possession of offensive weapons on further education premises

• Section 22 - Prohibition on the possession of offensive weapons

Evidence on Section 5 – Offence of having a corrosive substance in a Public Place

The military aspects of our period are important, and we use black powder weapons as part of our displays. Some of the substances used to clean these weapons could be considered corrosive substances. To ensure that these weapons remain serviceable our members must clean their weapons at events which often take place in public places. Section 5 of the bill does state that defence is that the person with the substance has a purpose for using it in a public place. Section 5 (3) does give a defence that the substance they have in their possession is for use for their work. The Association would like this defence to be widened to include historical re-enactment.

Evidence on Section 20 - Prohibition on the possession of certain dangerous knives and Section 22 - Prohibition on the possession of offensive weapons

Blunt knives, swords and bayonets are used during skirmishes to ensure the safety of participants. However, equally important to the Association is the living history element of activities where its members reflect camp life as it was during our period. This living history includes activities such as cooking. The Association is pleased to see that a defence against the delivery of knives in Section 16 (4) includes their use for historical re-enactment. However the knives used in our living history displays are based on historical artefacts and are stored in our members’ homes and at events. Sections 20 and 22 could make the Association’s law abiding members into criminals for carrying and storing these knives. The use of knives and equipment based on historical artefacts is a source of pride for our members and their prohibition would reduce the Association’s ability to educate the public. The Association would therefore request that historical re-enactment be specifically exempt from this part of the legislation to ensure that we can continue to both educate the public and support heritage sites.

Evidence on Section 21 - Prohibition on the possession of offensive weapons on further education premises

Our members also provide displays in colleges and other educational establishments. Additionally, we have members who attend these educational establishments and may be in halls of residence. They will need to store their equipment, which may include these types of knives, on site prior to attending events and this legislation would curtail their ability to undertake their lawful hobby. The Association would therefore request that historical re-enactment be specifically exempt from this part of the legislation

Conclusion

The aim of the Association is to educate the public at events and support heritage sites by providing events which can raise much needed funds. The Association believes that if this bill, as drafted, is enacted into law then its provisions could be used to curtail the use of replicas of historical artefacts during our events thus reducing the Association’s ability to educate the public. The Association believes that this is neither the intent or reason for the introduction of this bill but considers that historical re-enactment should be more clearly identified as a defence in the Bill.

Yours faithfully.

Martyn Monks

Chairman

Napoleonic Association

July 2018

 

Prepared 17th July 2018