Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Angela Wigley (OWB93)

1. My view on the proposal to introduce this Bill containing its existing Clause 15  (Making it a criminal offence to deliver bladed products to residential premises etc.) is that firstly, it is a knee-jerk reaction, creating legislation simply to be seen to be doing something, without providing any resources to tackle the real causes of the problem of knife crime, and secondly, because so many normal, everyday items can cut human skin, making thousands of items potential bladed weapons, it would be a nightmare trying to specify which items can be delivered to residential addresses and which cannot (it would even affect supermarket home delivery)

2. Clause 15 of the bill will affect small businesses, hobbyists, people who work from home, people with disabilities, who cannot go to a high street store to buy products.  

3. There are thousands of tools and utensils that can cut human skin, even a simple tin opener can do this.  Will it be a crime to buy a tin opener online and have it delivered to a residential address?

4. Clause 15 will harm many legitimate small business owners and take away their livelihood.

5. Anything can be used as a weapon, even a pencil or a spoon can pierce human skin:

Here are just a few examples:

i) a wooden broom handle could be sharpened to become a pike;

ii) a shovel/spade or other gardening equipment such as trowels, scythes, sickles could be used as weapons;

iii) builders’ equipment such as trowels and crow bars could be used as weapons;

iv) electricians’ tools such as a screwdriver could be used as an offensive weapon;

v) carpentry/joinery tools such as chisels; 

vi) tree surgeon's equipment such as axes;

vii) a few thousand years ago a piece of stone could be a very effective offensive weapon - a knapped piece of flint made into an axe or arrowhead;

viii) tin cans – these can be delivered to a residential address especially by supermarket home delivery yet by simply opening the can the lid becomes a bladed weapon;

ix) glass jars can be delivered to residential addresses but these also can simply be broken to create several weapons that can cut skin;

x) food processors/blenders contain blades yet they can be purchased online and delivered to a residential address;

xi) razor blades and shaving equipment can be bought online and delivered to residential addresses;

the list is endless.

6. The point is that thousands of everyday objects will cut human skin and therefore according to Clause 15, will not be allowed to be delivered to residential addresses. Anything can be used as a weapon. This therefore makes Clause 15 nonsensical.

7. Clause 15 of the Bill needs to be rethought so that it does not damage small businesses.

8. We know of one such business in Cornwall. A gentleman who, when he retired from the Royal Navy, where he was a helicopter winch man, started a sharpening business which he has now built into a successful enterprise which also sells scissors for a great number of professions including hair styling and tailoring, knives for chefs and butchers, hunting/survival knives, etc.

9. The gentleman has been granted the status of being the only sharpener in the UK to be recognized by the Guild of Mastercraftsmen.

10. His business is intended to be passed on to his sons but it will be decimated if this legislation is allowed onto the Statute Book in its current form.

11. Surely, this Bill can be better thought out.

This legislation will just push the anti-social and criminal elements in our society into using alternative tools as weapons.

12. It will not address the root cause of the problem of why these individuals feel the need to perform such violent acts. 

13. As most incidents of knife crime are related to young people involved in gang culture - for membership of a gang or to show loyalty to a gang, carrying a knife and using it is seen as a way of proving their loyalty, a rite of passage even, when joining a gang, surely it would be better to put more effort into policing and youth services to tackle gang culture.

14. The Metropolitan Police have stated that they believe the loss of thousands of officers from frontline policing is a major contributing factor to the rise in knife crime.  In England and Wales we now have 21,000 fewer police officers than we had in 2010. (Independent 27th April 2018) 

15. In addition to this, because of austerity, council spending on youth services has fallen by more than £750 million since 2010-11. (Independent 27th April 2018)

16. The voluntary sector has noted that the closure of youth clubs and other youth services has left young people without a safe place to meet and without the early intervention from youth workers/mentors who could steer young people away from gangs, violence and knives into more productive areas. (Independent 27th April 2018 and Independent 3rd April 2018)

17. A leaked Home Office document has suggested budget cuts had "likely contributed" to rising violence and "encouraged" offenders. (Independent 27th April 2018)

18. Austerity and poverty have also contributed to the problem in other ways. As there has been an increasing lack of parental supervision, as parents take on more than one job to make ends meet making them absent from the home for long periods. (Independent 3rd April 2018)

19. Given all the research and information already in the public domain, it must be obvious that this Bill, as it stands at the moment is not going to solve anything.  

20. It will achieve nothing other than to deprive hundreds of self- employed individuals of the means to support themselves and their families.

21. Creating more poverty and punishing small businesses is not the way forward. 

22. Poverty and austerity are not the fault of hardworking small businesses. The cuts to police numbers should be reversed, neighbourhood policing should be increased and youth services should be funded.  

23. If councils cannot afford to fund them due to cuts to their grants from central government then they should be funded by the government and seen as a means of crime prevention.

24. I hope this submission will aid you in your examination of this Bill and the removal of Clause 15.

July 2018

 

Prepared 23rd July 2018