The government has released the Offensive Weapons Bill, which is intended to signify a stricter approach to the possession of weapons and liquids that can be used to hurt others, such as caustic compounds.
The bill is part of the government’s response to the recent spike in serious violence, as outlined in the £40 million Serious Violence Strategy, which emphasises early intervention alongside strong law enforcement.
What is proposed?
- a new criminal offence of selling – both online and offline – a corrosive product to a person under the age of 18. The substances and concentration levels of what constitutes a corrosive product are set out in the Bill.
- a new criminal offence of possessing a corrosive substance in a public place. There is a defence of possessing the corrosive substance for a good reason. There is a minimum custodial sentence in England and Wales where a person is convicted for a relevant offence a second time. The offence will carry a maximum sentence of 4 years imprisonment.
- where a corrosive product or bladed product is sold online, the defence of having taken reasonable precautions can only be relied on where the seller meets certain conditions in terms of age verification and packaging and delivery of the items
- new criminal offences prohibiting the dispatch of bladed products and corrosive products sold online to a residential address. The offence for bladed products is limited to those that can cause severe injury and includes defences for made to order items and those for sporting and re-enactment purposes. The offence will carry a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment.
- new criminal offences in relation to delivery companies delivering a bladed article or a corrosive product on behalf of a seller outside the United Kingdom to a person under 18
- updating the definition of a flick knife and prohibition on the possession of flick knives and gravity knives (their sale etc. is already prohibited)
- amending existing law to make it a criminal offence to possess certain weapons (such as knuckledusters and death stars) – the sale and importation of these is already prohibited. It provides for compensation of owners
- extending the existing offences of possessing a bladed article or offensive weapon on school premises to cover further education premises in England and Wales and Northern Ireland
- amending the legal test for threatening with an offensive weapon in England and Wales
- prohibiting high energy and rapid firing rifles and a device known as a “bump stock” which increases the rate of fire of rifles. Existing owners will be compensated.
How we can help
Politicians have stepped up their rhetoric around knife violence in recent months, attempting to address public anxiety about the issue.
When judges learn about this, they frequently respond by imposing more lengthy prison sentences.
It is our responsibility to ensure that guilty pleas are only entered when necessary, and that the whole context of the circumstance is presented in mitigation if a person is condemned. Young people’s lives are complicated and often secret, and it is our responsibility to ensure that the complete picture is presented before a court.
At Levy & Co, we are always open to helping advise and assist in cases such as these.
How can we help?
We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact our team of criminal defence specialists on: 01376 511819