Offensive Weapons Bill

Written evidence submitted by Alastair Fisher, Jt Managing Director, Taylors Eye Witness Ltd (OWB97)

1. Alastair Fisher. UK Tax Payer. Director Taylors Eye Witness Ltd for over 30 years. Past President British Home Enhancement Trade Association.

2. Taylors Eye Witness Ltd. Established in 1838 and a family owned and managed business. Probably the UK`s largest Kitchen Knife manufacturer and a substantial distributor of Kitchen Knives, Scissors and kitchenware products. Our customers are principally Homeware`s resellers including John Lewis, Waitrose, Asda, TKMaxx, Amazon and a host of smaller retailers and industrial and agricultural users. We have a growing export business and have recently completed a £2,000,000 investment programme in our new Parkway Close factory in Sheffield.

3. Kitchen Knives - some facts.

a. The Kitchen Knife market is worth about £60m to the British economy (source BHETA)

b. There are about 400,000,000 kitchen knives in circulation in the UK (source CATRA)

c. Kitchen Knives are essential to our daily lives. Without them we would starve. There would be no food in the shops or restaurants

d. In normal use sharp knives are less dangerous than blunt ones, as less pressure is required to cut.

e. A sharp knife is needed to prepare nutritious basic meals.

f. Knives are available on sale in 1000`s of retail outlets (from Harrods to Poundland) across the UK.

g. Many of the traditional retailers of knives are closing down (Dept Stores independent High Street Cook Shops and Hardware Stores). The retail trade is gravitating to on-line. As well as 100% on line customers we have many customers who are bricks and clicks. (traditional stores who keep open due to on line activity). These customers would be severely effected were the Bill to be made law

h. Approx 17.6% of retail sales are now made on line (source Digital ID). One would expect this figure to grow.

4. Our Objections to Paragraph 15 The ban on delivery of bladed items to residential addresses. The ban will achieve nothing, with over 400,000,000 kitchen knives in circulation any criminal of whatever age can easily lay their hands on a knife, from home, any friend`s house or, bar, café and restaurant. In fact by buying on line the criminal would leave a trail of evidence that would not exist if a knife were to be bought from a conventional store. Even if knives were totally banned criminals could easily construct offensive weapons using ordinary household items. Nails, lengths of wood, scrap metal, broken glass etc.

5. Cost/Benefit analysis of the Ban

a. Youth crime effect of the Bill – ZERO

b. Cost to UK business – substantial but unknown

c. Cost to UK Government – Loss in Vat significant but unknown

d. Cost to Government – Loss of Corporation Tax and PAYE significant but unknown

e. Cost to Government – Enforcement £8,000,000 Government estimate

f. Loss of respect to the Law. The proposed Law is bad law - a pathetic knee jerk reaction by politicians and civil servants – that they must be seen to do something. As with the Poll Tax bad law begets lawlessness and a lack of respect for the law.

g. Cost to Taylors Eye Witness Ltd. As the shift towards on line trading continues the effect of this proposed restriction will increase. It is not an exaggeration to say that it could affect the viability of our business. Our core expertise is in kitchen knives and whilst our distribution business could move into other products our manufacturing business is equipped to produce kitchen knives and little else.

h. Cost to Taylors Eye Witness trade customers. In certain cases it will be fatal. Many companies in our trade are small and do not have the financial strength to move into new product areas.

6. An Alternative Strategy. Education of young people. Rather than criminalising honest business people the government should look to educating vulnerable young people. A sharp knife is a necessary tool to prepare nutritious meals. Cookery classes can teach young people the basics of handling, sharpening and storing knives. In my working life I often meet young trainee chefs. These young men and women are often from very modest backgrounds who because of their knife skills training would never dream of misusing their knives. In addition these simple Cookery Classes would contribute to the fight against the obesity crisis. Our company has been helping the Metropolitan Police with their knife research and they agree that the proposed ban is pointless and are looking to develop my suggestion of knife education. If you are interested in exploring this further please contact me and I would be very happy to give verbal evidence to the Committee at any reasonable time.

July 2018


Prepared 23rd July 2018