What counts as knife crime
Knife crime includes:
- carrying a knife or trying to buy one if you’re under 18
- threatening someone with a knife
- carrying a knife that's banned
- a murder where the victim was stabbed with a knife
- a robbery or burglary where a thief carried a knife as a weapon
An offensive weapon is:
- an article designed to cause injury to another person
- an article carried with the intention of causing injury to another person
Penalties for knife crime
The law on knives says:
- it is illegal for anyone, including a shop, to sell a knife of any kind (including cutlery and kitchen knives) to anyone under the age of 18
- if you’re under 18, it’s illegal to buy most types of knives
- anyone over 10 can be charged and taken to court if they’re caught with an illegal knife – even if it’s the first time they’ve been stopped by the police
- if you're caught carrying a knife, you could receive a community sentence, a fine or imprisoned
- you could be searched at any time if a police officer thinks you may be carrying a knife
- even if you’re carrying a knife that you’re legally allowed to (like a penknife with a blade that’s shorter than three inches), it becomes illegal if you use it as a weapon to threaten or harm anyone
The maximum sentence for carrying a knife illegally is four years in prison and an unlimited fine. If you injure someone or use a knife to commit a crime, the penalties could increase.
Carrying a knife
It's an offence to carry a knife or an offensive weapon in a public place without a good reason.
You could be prosecuted for carrying an article that could injure someone. If convicted, you could be imprisoned and fined.
Banned knives and offensive weapons
There is a complete ban on the sale of offensive weapons and certain knives, including:
- flick knives - where the blade is hidden inside the handle and shoots out when a button is pressed - these are also called switchblades or automatic knives
- butterfly knives - where the blade is hidden inside a handle that splits in two around it, like wings or the handles swing around the blade to open or close it
- disguised knives - where the blade is hidden inside something, like a belt buckle or fake mobile phone
- push daggers
- gravity knives
- 'airport' or stealth knives
- samurai swords
- blowpipes or guns
- kubotan (cylindrical container holding spikes)
- shuriken (also known as death stars or throwing stars)
- telescopic truncheons (automatically extending)
- kusari-gama (sickle attached to a rope, cord or wire)
- kyoketsu shoge (hook-knife attached to a rope, cord or wire)
- kusari (weight attached to a rope, cord or wire)
- straight, side handled or friction-lock truncheons
Stop and search
Police officers have the right to stop and search any person or vehicle if they suspect an offence. This includes illegally carrying a knife or offensive weapon.
Helping to stop knife crime
If you have a knife and want to get rid of it, talk to an adult who you trust. They’ll be able to help you find the best way to dispose of it. You might also want to find out when your nearest police station runs a ‘knife amnesty’. During an amnesty, you can hand in your unwanted knife without having to answer questions from the police.
If you have information about knife crime in your area and you're nervous about going to the police, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They will never ask for your name or try to trace the number that you're calling from.
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