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cromdubh
02-08-07, 12:19 AM
Hi all

I have noticed recently that there has been quite a few questions raised about the legality of certain items, and some confusion over the current laws governing knives.

I have had a quiet few days at work, so decided to print off everything I could from the Police National Legal database and try and write a concise giude to the current laws.

I will break it down into a few sections for easier reading.

OFFENSIVE WEAPONS

The wording of the offence is as follows:

Without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, had with youin a public place, an offensive weapon

OK lets look at the definition of some of those terms.

Lawful Authority

This means that authority by the Home Office has been granted to certain bodies, to allow them to carry an article which would otherwise be classed as an offensive weapon. This includes on duty police officers carrying batons, soldiers carrying bayonets etc.

Reasonable Excuse

There is no definitive list of what is considered reasonable excuse. Some examples are:
using an item in self defence if under imminent threat. A man picks up a brick because he has been confronted by a gang of kids for example. This defence would not cover someone carrying a knife on the off chance of being threatened, nor would it cover a situation where the person has knowingly and deliberatly put themselves in a position, where violence could be expected. This defence would also cover instant use, where the person actually uses the item as an offensive weapon. IE using a set of keys as an impromptu knuckleduster, when set upon.

Innocent reason. This would include martial artists bring home weapons after a training session, bushcrafters using an axe in the appropriate setting, sportspersons using an article in the confines of their sport.

Forgetfullness This could be used as a defence in certain circumstances. Forgetting you had a weapon on you is not a defence in itself, but say for example a taxi driver finds a knuckleduster in the back of his cab, he shoves it under the front seat, intending to drop it off at the police station, but forgets. This defence would not usually cover items left in pockets, when you visit the pub.

Not reasonable excuses

Ignorance Claiming that you thought an extendable baton was an aerial for example is not an excuse for possession.

Protection Claiming you had possession of an item for protection is not an excuse.

To commit suicide Having an item in your possession to kill yourself is not a defence.

The next part of the charge is Had with you. This means that you knew or ought have known that you had the article in your possession.
For an item to be in your possession, it needs to be either on your person (in your hand or your pocket) or in your vehicle. Possession could also include secreting the item close at hand in a bush (hard to prove) or being held by a friend, who is close by.

Next is in a public place. A public place is any highway or a place where the public have access to, on paymnet or otherwise. This includes shops, pubs, clubs etc. as well as out on the street or on the road.

The final element is an offensive weapon. I will describe this in the following post.

Colin KC
02-08-07, 12:24 AM
Please can you clarify the sources &/or the parts which you have interpreted from the sources.


Ta

cromdubh
02-08-07, 12:44 AM
Offensive weapons

An offensive weapon is an article which is made,adapted or intended to be used as an offensive weapon.

An article which is made to be an offensive weapon is anything which was designed and manufactured to be used as a weapon. This includes knuckledusters, batons, bayonets, daggers, swords, martial arts weapons, disguised knives etc. There is not an exhaustive list of what comes under this catagory. Items in this catagory are also refered to as offensive weapons per se.

If you are arrested for possessing an item in this catagory, the prosecution only need to prove possession. You still have a defence if you can prove lawful authority or reasonable excuse. Examples of this include a policeman having lawful authority to possess a baton, soldiers having lawful authority to possess bayonets, re-enactors having a reasonable excuse to possessing a sword, mace, halberd, etc. and martial artists having reasonable excuse for possessing martial arts weapon.

Articles which are adapted to be an offensive weapon would include a beer bottle smashed with the intent to use it as a weapon, a screwdriver with the point filed sharp and the good old baseball bat nails hammered into it.

If arrested for possessing an item in this catagory, the prosecution would need to prove possession and that the fact that the item was adapted to be used as an offensive weapon. If someone is clearing up smashed bottles and is set upon, the use of the bottle as a weapon would not constitute it being adapted to be a weapon. The bottle was already smashed and was not smashed with the intent to turn it into a weapon. You could still have lawful authority or a reasonable excuse to possing an item in this catagory though.

The final catagory is articles which are intended to be used as an offensive weapon. Pretty much everything could fall into this catagory. If you pick any item up with the intent to use it as a weapon, it would fall under this catagory.
The prosecution would need to prove you intended to use the item as a weapon to be charged. A lot would depend on the circumstances around your actions at the time of arrest.

Examples would be using a set of keys as an impromptu knuckleduster before getting involved in an organised ruck, or carrying a knife with the intent to stab someone.

Even if the prosecution proved intent, the defence of Instant use could negate this. As mentioned before, if a person is in imminent fear for their safety, using an item with the intent to use it as a weapon is not an offence.

I would like to point out again, that no matter what catagory the article falls in, if you can prove lawful authority or reasonable excuse, you have not committed an offence. (yes this includes flick knives, knuckleduster etc.)

It is also worth pointing out that the points that the prosecution have to prove need to be beyond reasonable doubt, but the defence only have to prove on a balance of probabilities that the had a reasonable excuse. This basically means that the prosecution have a harder job proving their part.:D

cromdubh
02-08-07, 12:44 AM
Please can you clarify the sources &/or the parts which you have interpreted from the sources.


Ta

The police national legal database mate. I have all of the legal topics printed out in front of me.

cromdubh
02-08-07, 01:00 AM
OK, moving onto Sec. 139 Criminal Justica Act 1988.
It is an offence to Have with you without Good reason or Lawful authority in a Public place an article, which has a blade or is sharply pointed or a folding pocket knife which has a blade with a cutting edge which exceeds 7.62cm (3 inches)

I have already covered the definitions reasonable excuse, lawful authority, had with you and a public place.

An article which is bladed or sharply pointed would include ice picks, knives, bill hooks, awls etc. It does not include screwdrivers, cricket bats (thats a different story) and other such items. The law was made to stop people carrying weapons and not to stop people from doing their jobs.

A folding pocket knife does not include flick knives, balisongs or lock knives.


In theory, this is an easier charge to prove than being in possession of an offensive weapon, as the prosecution only need to prove possession. No intent is needed. You would still have the defence of lawful authority or reasonable excuse. Again this only needs to be proved on the balance of probabilities. Remember the word is REASONABLE.

Quite worryingly, after the Voilent Crime Reduction Act came into effect (Feb 2007 in this case), the penalty for possessing a bladed or sharply pointed object is exactly the same as possessing an offensive weapon (6 months and/or fine at magistrates court or 4 years and/or fine at crown court).

What this means in effect is that carrying a lock knife without reasonable excuse is as severe as carrying a flick knife without reasonable excuse. Different charge, same sentance.

cromdubh
02-08-07, 01:15 AM
I also dug out some stats regarding people arrested for being in possession of a knife of some kind.

In 2007 (up until 31st July), 72 people have been arrested in Hertfordshire for being in possession of a knife. Every one of them was initially arrested on suspicion of being in possession of an offensive weapon. No one was arrested on suspicion of having a bladed or pointed object.

Out of those 72 people:


14 admitted to carrying a knife with intent to use it as a weapon
8 were charged, due to carrying an item made to be an offensive weapon (6 with flick knives, 2 with balisongs)
18 were charged with having a bladed or pointed object (sec. 139) after not offering a reasonable excuse
4 were charged after denying having the knife with intent to use it (the circumstances around their arrest went a long way to prove intent.)
3 were given really dodgy cautions for posssing an offensive weapon, when they should have cautioned under sec.139.
3 were charged with being in possession of an offensive weapon, when an charge under sec. 139 should have been used (all 3 cases were dismissed at court).
5 cases were so vague regarding the circumstances around the charge, I could not tell.
17 people were released with no charge after explaining their reasonable excuse for possessing a knife.


I do not know how many people were stopped by police, carrying a knife and were not arrested.

Not sure if anyone will find that useful, but I know Tantalus was interested in the stats.

If anyone has any questions regarding my post, then I am more than happy to try and answer them.

Colin KC
02-08-07, 02:59 AM
The police national legal database mate. I have all of the legal topics printed out in front of me.


No Cromdubh, you misunderstand. If you're presenting these statements as law, can you indicate the passages that are your own interpretation of the law.

cromdubh
02-08-07, 03:05 AM
No Cromdubh, you misunderstand. If you're presenting these statements as law, can you indicate the passages that are your own interpretation of the law.

Errrmmm none of them. All I have done is adapted the wording to make it more user friendly.

If you disagree with any of it then feel free to let me know (adding any links to contradictory evidence)

Colin KC
02-08-07, 03:30 AM
Errrmmm none of them. All I have done is adapted the wording to make it more user friendly.

If you disagree with any of it then feel free to let me know (adding any links to contradictory evidence)


I'm concerned that your adapting of the wording of the law might be taken as law by a member & that your interpretation might be flawed

For example, exactly which part of the law allows a cabbie to have a knuckleduster under the seat of his cab?

cromdubh
02-08-07, 03:37 AM
I'm concerned that your adapting of the wording of the law might be taken as law by a member & that your interpretation might be flawed

For example, exactly which part of the law allows a cabbie to have a knuckleduster under the seat of his cab?


http://www.rjerrard.co.uk/law/cases/glid.htm. I simplified the wording.

You obviously have a problem with this post so please feel free to delete it.

Ross
02-08-07, 08:58 AM
Agreed, thats why it can be discussed ;)

Colin KC
02-08-07, 09:07 AM
Thing is , & I've thought long & hard about this, you achully think that putting the law into simple terms (that you can unnerstand) is a flawed method, because you're interpreting it.

For example, the link you give to rjerrard doesn't state that forgetfullness is a defence, it says that


"to have forgotten that one has an offensive weapon in the car that one is driving is not in itself a reasonable excuse" but "when such forgetfulness is coupled with particular circumstances relating to the original acquisition of the article" the combination might be a reasonable excuse for having the offensive weapon.



Then later says


In Cugullere [1961] 1WLR 858 the Court of Criminal Appeal held that the phrase under consideration ‘must mean "knowingly has with him in any public place". The court went on to make clear that it meant that the defendant must knowingly have possession of the article in question. If a person forgets that he has possession of an offensive weapon, the Court of Appeal has had held that he nevertheless continues to "have it with him"

Your logic is horribly flawed & I don't think that any part of this should be taken as law.

Colin KC
02-08-07, 09:08 AM
Please feel free to post observations & comments here

mikesknives
02-08-07, 09:41 AM
I don't think theres any need to insult the guy for making an effort, flawed or otherwise.

Tantalus
02-08-07, 09:45 AM
Very interesting indeed Crom, many thanks :sign26:

There is often a huuuuuuuuuge difference between "official statistics" and facts, thanks for looking out these facts.

Not going to post any opinions in this thread because it would muddy the waters , might start another one though with the facts as a starter :rolleye11

Tant

wanderingblade
02-08-07, 10:08 AM
This thread is an excellent idea - maybe it could be a combined effort by all those with legal expertise to produce the 'definitive' explaination of the law relating to the carrying and use of knives / bladed article?

Tantalus
02-08-07, 10:19 AM
This thread is an excellent idea - maybe it could be a combined effort by all those with legal expertise to produce the 'definitive' explaination of the law relating to the carrying and use of knives / bladed article?

I was under the impression Crom posted this to show arrest and conviction rates rather than a definitive explanation of the law.

More like "how the law is being applied at the moment".

Of course I could be well wrong :rolleyes:

Crom ?

Tant

cromdubh
02-08-07, 10:32 AM
Thing is , & I've thought long & hard about this, you achully think that putting the law into simple terms (that you can unnerstand) is a flawed method, because you're interpreting it.

For example, the link you give to rjerrard doesn't state that forgetfullness is a defence, it says that




Then later says



Your logic is horribly flawed & I don't think that any part of this should be taken as law.

This is what i wrote,


Forgetfullness This could be used as a defence in certain circumstances. Forgetting you had a weapon on you is not a defence in itself, but say for example a taxi driver finds a knuckleduster in the back of his cab, he shoves it under the front seat, intending to drop it off at the police station, but forgets. This defence would not usually cover items left in pockets, when you visit the pub

This is what the POLICE NATIONAL LEGAL DATABASE has to say. The following is exactly word for word,

(Under the heading of reasonable excuses)

FORGETFULNESS- The fact that the accused forgot he had the weapon is not in itself a reasonable excuse (R vs McCALLA (1988). However ,depending on the circumstances of a particular case , forgetfulness may be relevant to whether or not a defendant has reasonable excuse for possession of an offensive weapon (e.g. a taxi driver finds a rope cosh in the back of his taxi, hides it under the seat intending to dispose of it later but forgets about it (R vs GLIDEWELL 1999).

All I have done is changed the style of writing and made it a little simpler to understand.

Now I know that if I insult you, like the way you have insulted me on a public forum, I would get banned so fast. So I am not going to go there.

A few days ago I got in contact with Danzo and asked him if he thought it might be a good idea for me to try and post up a simplified version of the laws governing offensive weapons and knives. He thought it would be, so I spent many hours digging up this material and trawling through crime reports.

I was hoping that this post would be a help to other BB'ers, but I get accused of trying to misinterperet the law.

tenbears10
02-08-07, 10:46 AM
I can't think what to say really. Cromdubh was trying to clarify something that has been gone over and over in recent weeks and he is doing it using the resorce used by Police Officers, CPS lawyers and many other people in the legal system but a resorce which the general public may not have access to. The PNLD interperts the law so it can be understood more easily and it gives real examples as he has stated. He put his own time and effort in and this was the thanks he gets.

thomas
02-08-07, 10:59 AM
I wouldn't say it was a miss interpatation of the law, but rather an explanation of the wording used in the law.
Simplified.
With some hypothetical examples.

soa
02-08-07, 11:33 AM
I think it's an excellent explanation, which shows a good deal of effort and is a major and worthwhile contribution to the understanding of both the law as it stands - *and* as it is enforced.


am I right in thinking that he's a self aggrandising ****

Frankly, no. I'm astounded that you came to that conclusion, and assume you were tired and irritable as you suggested. I'd hope you thought that was a PM rather than a posting; if so, that adds to the tired bit...

I'm *saddened* that after apparently thinking about you didn't bother to retract what I perceive to be a blatantly offensive post. Maybe I'm an overly sensitive flower. The fact that it's been highlighted that dodgy cautions for offensive weapons were issued rather than s139 cautions is worth knowing in itself...

Others may have different views.

Colin KC
02-08-07, 11:55 AM
Cromdubh, I apologise for being personal & insulting you on this forum, I admit to being tired & irritable, but that's no excuse.

Sorry, I know you're only trying to help.

Colin KC
02-08-07, 12:12 PM
This is what the POLICE NATIONAL LEGAL DATABASE has to say. The following is exactly word for word,

(Under the heading of reasonable excuses)

FORGETFULNESS- The fact that the accused forgot he had the weapon is not in itself a reasonable excuse (R vs McCALLA (1988). However ,depending on the circumstances of a particular case , forgetfulness may be relevant to whether or not a defendant has reasonable excuse for possession of an offensive weapon (e.g. a taxi driver finds a rope cosh in the back of his taxi, hides it under the seat intending to dispose of it later but forgets about it (R vs GLIDEWELL 1999).

All I have done is changed the style of writing and made it a little simpler to understand.


Understood Cromdubh, but, as we all know, things can go a bit pear shaped if people don't fully understand what they're putting down on paper for posterity (not you in this achul instance, but the person that put the above on the PNLD.)

Here's what the case says: R v Glidewell.


It was apparent in the present case that Glidewell was not responsible for introducing any of the items into his vehicle.

&


The circumstances of the present case, including the facts that Glidewell had not introduced the weapons into his car and that they had been in his possession a comparatively short time, and his evidence of how busy he was on the relevant night which bore on his forgetfulness, all were matters which manifestly made the relevance of forgetfulness to the question whether his excuse for possession was reasonable a matter for the jury


Do you see?

Colin KC
02-08-07, 12:33 PM
& here:


Glidewell said that those items had been found in the car a couple of nights earlier by a passenger



There was a significant difference between the facts in McCalla and those in the present case, namely that McCalla himself had introduced the offensive weapon into the glove compartment of his car

cromdubh
02-08-07, 12:35 PM
Colin

No worries mate and in hindsight I see that you were just trying to protect other BB members:party11:

I know that some of the explanations did not go into great depth, but I didnt want to bog down the thread with huge amounts of case law. This is the reason why I was more than willing to answer questions. I actually printed out all of the case law regarding offensive weapon and knives so I was able to go into more depth if requested.

cromdubh
02-08-07, 12:42 PM
With reference to your quotes, I covered that in my explanation, stating the the taxi driver found an offensive weapon in his cab (and as such did not introduce it into his cab himself). He then intended to hand it into police, but forgot. Yes this was a simplified version of R vs GLIDEWELL, but I think I covered all the points.

There was also a case where a woman bought a domestic kitchen knife whilst shopping. Whilst driving home, she was concerned that her young child may take the knife out of her shopping bag, so put it in the glove box of her car, intending to take it out when she got home. Due to trying to unpack the car and look after a child, she forgot about the knife. This was later found by police, but it was accepted she had a reasonable excuse to why the knife was in the car.

ZDP-189
02-08-07, 02:39 PM
cromdubh, please bear with us. We've a few lawyers and police on the team and have thrashed through most of these topics before at great length. Unless you have a strong background in criminal law and have experience defending or prosecuting these kinds of offenses, I think it's understandable that the mods will closely examine any text that is represented as a definitive legal position, because forum members and guests may come to rely upon your legal advice.

cromdubh
02-08-07, 02:48 PM
cromdubh, please bear with us. We've a few lawyers and police on the team and have thrashed through most of these topics before at great length. Unless you have a strong background in criminal law and have experience defending or prosecuting these kinds of offenses, I think it's understandable that the mods will closely examine any text that is represented as a definitive legal position, because forum members and guests may come to rely upon your legal advice.


Not sure if this counts, but I have had a few years in the police now. Just over 2 of them were spent in a detective role and I have just passed my Sgt's exams.

Also bear in mind I have not said this is the definitive explanation of Uk law, more of a simplifed way of explaining current legislation. Nothing in law is set in stone, that is why there are court cases, with case law being created all the time. All I have done is try to explain the law as it stands now in practical terms.

I am more than happy to go into greater depth if anyone has specific questions and am more than happy if anyone wants to disagree with what i have posted. All I ask is for is evidence to back up any disagreements.

puzo
02-08-07, 03:32 PM
understandably mods will be edgy, and for good reason as they are protecting a community resource, saftey of their members and any legal backlash. I would be more concerned if no questions were asked.

maybe the thread title should be changed to "Explained: A possible interpretation of the laws on offensive weapons and knives for legal defense"

I have on several occasions forgeton i have had offensive weapons while in transit, from the allotment to home, with a quick pint on the way home. It is a remminder that you can under curtain circumstances have a defense to the tough knife laws being imposed, but at other times there is no defense or excuse, like nipping in for a quick pint!

I interpret this as: you better have a dam good excuse or your screwed, and you cant get away with just forgetting. It promots well thoughtout adult descions with taking responsibily for your actions.

Colin KC
02-08-07, 04:09 PM
Crom, I completely unnerstand where you're coming from & it's to your credit:)

But could you just condense it down to basics, less examples (like the knuckleduster/cabbie one) examples could then be thought out & researched after people ask questions (for example: would a Paul Chen practice katana be an offensive weapon per se?)

Martyn
02-08-07, 04:41 PM
Cromdubh, I apologise for being personal & insulting you on this forum, I admit to being tired & irritable, but that's no excuse.

Sorry, I know you're only trying to help.

I'm glad you've apologised Col, because your comments were bang out of order. I know it's out of character and I know we all get grumpy, but that is not an excuse for being so aggressive and personal. I've deleted your post and am making this comment publically, because if it had been anyone else, they would of had at least that. That's not the kind of example admins need to be setting mate. I see that Crom has graciously accepted your apologly, so hopefully that will be that. Next time you feel like a bear with a sore head, go take it out on some damascus or somethin. :rolleyes:

Crom, thankyou for taking the time to transcribe these texts. It is good to see the essence of them, but Col does have a point (although he made it very badly) the original "verbatim" text is vital if we are to use it as a reliable resource. What we try and do is have links or textual copies of the actual documents and then debate thier meaning, interpretation etc ad-nauseum. This is where your opinions as a serving officer are extremely useful - but we still need the verbatim text as an empirical starting point. Are there any online drafts of the same, that can be linked to or cut & pasted?

J3st3r
02-08-07, 04:49 PM
cromdubh, what can i say , many thanks for putting legal jargon in a way that a thick northern monkey like myself can understand some of the cases that have been herd in the past, I understand Colin Kc's apprehension about they way it might be interpreted by some of the BB members as " The Law " but i do think he did not mean to offend you by the manner in which he typed his remarks.
I for one thankyou for the time and effort you have put into this

J3st3r:)

Martyn
02-08-07, 05:07 PM
Right, lets start this again.

I've copied Croms first main posts from this thread here...

http://www.britishblades.com/forums/showthread.php?t=40934&page=2

...and am locking this one as it contains too much volatile information. Lets use the other "virgin" thread to debate the content of Croms posts properly and hopefully this one will slip off the face of the earth in due course.

Thread closed.