Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Joshua Collins (OWB72)

My name is Joshua Collins and I'm a hobbyist collector of antique weapons and blades.

The rise in knife crime in recent years worries me greatly, but given that the laws governing knives have gotten drastically harsher in that same time period while knife crime continues to rise, I don't think there is any reason to think that tightening these laws further will do anything to slow or stop this trend.

I don't have the information to speculate what the cause of the rises in knife crime and acid attacks could be, but I'd ask that you look for the underlying causes of this violence rather than introducing legislation that does little to prevent these crimes while also taking away rights from law abiding citizens such as myself who collect these items for their cultural and historic value.

I'm concerned by several parts of the Offensive Weapons Bill 2017-2019, specifically that it makes simply the possessing in your home of certain previously legal items an offence, that the bill seems to contain no protection for antiques, and that it contains no explanation of how bladed items bought online can be sent or collected except from the residential address of the seller.

My suggestion would be to include a provision for the protection of antiques, to remove references to possession and replace them with "possession in a public place" or similar phrasing that doesn't harm law abiding collectors but does effect to those with ill intent, and to make clear the legal route for the sale and delivery of bladed items. Perhaps requiring identification to be shown and logged on purchase and delivery regardless of age would discourage those with criminal intent from buying these items online.

I'm also puzzled that delivery of corrosive products to residential addresses will be banned with no reference to their strength beyond the possibility that it corrode human skin. Many corrosives can damage human skin if exposed for long enough, it's just that the time taken could be measured in days for weak concentrations. Think of the damage done to a tooth left in mildly acidic diet coca cola overnight as an example.

Corrosives are used in many processes such as etching circuit-boards or patinating metal to prevent rusting, and making them difficult to purchase will harm hobbyists and professionals in many fields.

A less harmful way to go about this might be to ban the delivery of corrosives with a concentration of more than 1.5M for example, and to require identification for purchasing and delivery regardless of age, with a record of the identification shown being kept.

I think more funding to mental health support, official advice on the early signs of a break down and who to contact if you think somebody shows those signs would be a good place to start, along with more funding going to policing and community engagement from the police. I'm not an expert though, so maybe you have better suggestions for how to improve the bill.

I welcome any replies or corrections, and I hope that a version of this bill can be enacted that does less to harm hobbyists/collectors/professionals working from home, and more to prevent the root causes of knife crime and acid attacks.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Joshua Collins.

 

Prepared 23rd July 2018