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Offensive Weapons Act 2019 restrict access to dangerous weapons

06 Apr 2022

Changes to legislation brought about by the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 mean that from today (April 6) it will be harder for young people to buy dangerous weapons, both at the point of sale and delivery.

Retailers and couriers will now be legally obliged to do more to ensure that knives, corrosives and other offensive weapons are not sold or delivered to those under the age of 18. The new restrictions will also make it an offence to possess a corrosive substance in a public place.

The move comes after the first part of the Act came into force last year, banning the possession of certain dangerous items in private.

Police and partners will be working to educate the public and the business community regarding these changes in legislation. The introduction of such measures will provide us with further means to help deter young people from becoming involved in knife possession and knife crime.

National Police Chiefs' Council lead on knife crime, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty, said:  

“The harm caused by knife crime to families and communities is devastating and the issue remains a top priority for policing but is not something that can be solved by policing alone.

“We are working closely with schools, charities, community schemes and partners to help people understand why carrying a knife is never the right choice. Early intervention plays a vitally important role in preventing young people from turning to a life of crime.

“We welcome the final changes to legislation being introduced by the Offensive Weapons Act 2019, complimenting those that were brought into effect last year.  

“These additional measures will bring in new provisions for the control of weapons sold online, as well as placing responsibility onto delivery companies to conduct vital age verification upon delivery. These are important developments that will help us to address the growing issue of the online sale of knives.”

“We continue to work closely with our partners to reduce the availability and accessibility of these weapons“.    

The provisions include prohibiting the sale of corrosive products to anyone under the age of 18, prohibiting the delivery of corrosive products to residential premises, making it a criminal offence to possess a corrosive substance in a public place and introducing minimum custodial sentences for those convicted of a second or subsequent possession offence. 

As Chair of the NPCC Corrosive Substance Working Group DCC Rachel Kearton acknowledged the commencement of the act, stating:

"This reflects almost 5 years’ worth of police-committed, multiagency work to prevent these horrendous crimes, work which has seen a 70% reduction and the first time in UK history that corrosive substances have been mentioned in legislation”.