Reasons for carrying a knife (in the UK).......

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JonnyP

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Oct 17, 2005
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Following on from Stovies "So how does it affect you" thread, I thought I would ask, what reasons would you give to a policeman for carrying your knife ?
I nearly always have a knife with me, usually my leatherman wave, but if I was suddenly stopped in a street and a knife was found on me, I may not be able to come up with a convincing reason for carrying my knife and may have it taken off me. I am the last sort of person to use a knife on another person, but I find having a knife always useful. So do you have any good reasons I could use....................Jon
 

leon-1

Full Member
When I am carrying a leatherman wave, it would probably be I am a computer engineer by trade and carry it for work purposes.

If it's when I am going out and about, then sorry officer, but I use it in the pursuit of my hobby (bushcraft), it is used for (long list).

As long as I am not going to a meet and he asks to look in my bag I should be okay.:D
 

jerv

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Aug 28, 2005
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seriously who has been stopped and searched by the police whilst walking about mindng their own business?
we may live in a police state but at least the trains run on time......oh wait they don't!
 

ArkAngel

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May 16, 2006
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Fortunatley i have never been on the wrong end of the law (1 speeding ticket ommited!)
Like you Jon i used to carry the Victorinox version of your leatherman with me everywhere i went. It turned out to be useful in so many situations it would be impossible to list, but they ranged from removing the spark plugs in my friends defunct land rover to unplumbling a washing machine!
I must admit now however i have stopped carrying it unless i am out in the fields although the blade is under 3 inches. I just don't think that if i were stopped the 'just in case' defence would cut the mustard with the police although i would imagine i would get no more than a warning for a first offence so to speak.
Out in the fields would be a different story and telling any officer about your hobby and why you are carrying a knife would i have no doubt not concern them at all. Indeed the dog unit exercise their dogs in some of the fields near me and none of them have ever challenged me about wearing a knife when i have met them.

Having worked with the police a few years ago i would imagine that getting stopped and searched without reason would be highly unlikely. These days they have to fill out an "encounter" form if they stop you, the paperwork is immense for these situations and most officers i know most would not stop you unless they had VERY good reason to as it is in their words "just too much damn hassle"
 

ilan

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Feb 14, 2006
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why would you want to carry a knife over the limit ? a 3ins blade will be all you will need . when out camping etc i always make sure my camp knife is in the rucksack with the mess tin so it is in context .
 

ArkAngel

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May 16, 2006
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I hope i havn't been misunderstood there. Of course i have no interest in carrying a knife over 3" daily, the victorinox i used to carry was under 3". This is the magic length that has deemed to be a 'lawful' length to carry. My point was that even though my knife was under this length i have stopped carrying it as useful as it was as i was concerned that if stopped i could recieve a warning or confiscation of the knife as the 'just in case' excuse wouldn't be accepted.
As you rightly say my camp knife is 3.5" which is plenty long for all tasks and like you is either carried on it's neck sheath under my clothing out of view or in a side pocket of my rucksack.
 

Stuart

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Sep 12, 2003
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ilan said:
why would you want to carry a knife over the limit ? a 3ins blade will be all you will need.

You probably wouldn’t, but you might want to carry a sub 3" blade that locked open such as those on a leatherman.

Under British law a folding blade that locks is classed as a fixed blade and as such any length locking blade would be illegal without a food reason, no matter how small.
 
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wiggles

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i only carry a knife when out in the wilds and if i saw a copper id ask him what the hell he was doing there :confused:

wiggles:)
 
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ilan

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Feb 14, 2006
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sorry but i thought you could carry a folding knife of 3ins blade without any reason . It would only be if you used it in a manor that was dangerous that the problem would arise. i think it was on british blades where a man was stopped with a folding knife with a 3/1/8 blade even tho he claimed it was to peel his apple he still got done . But the law does say that up to 3 ins is ok without reason . However the law is very fuzzy on what is a knife so as i understand it you could be done for having a 4ins nail in your pocket (metal tent peg ) without good reason ?
 

BorderReiver

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Mar 31, 2004
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Jon Pickett said:
Following on from Stovies "So how does it affect you" thread, I thought I would ask, what reasons would you give to a policeman for carrying your knife ?
I nearly always have a knife with me, usually my leatherman wave, but if I was suddenly stopped in a street and a knife was found on me, I may not be able to come up with a convincing reason for carrying my knife and may have it taken off me. I am the last sort of person to use a knife on another person, but I find having a knife always useful. So do you have any good reasons I could use....................Jon


If you don't have a good reason Jon,don't carry the knife. ;)
 

Jackdaw

Full Member
The real check point here is whether they have justifiable grounds for searching you. I have just recently left the police and can tell you that they are not allowed to just stop and search you without justifiable grounds.

What this justifiable grounds could be is a matter of conjecture. But under Sect 1 of PACE you can only be searched if they actually believe that they will find whatever they are looking for on your person. This means that they must have had some intelligence to presume you will have a knife on you.

If you are arrested you will be searched no matter what the offence. This may lead them to include a further arrest of carry a conceled weapon or some other offence. The best thing to do is when asked, always tell them what you have on you. If they find it after asking you, you will more than likely be in bother. I would be most upset to have been lawfully searching someone and finding a knife after asking if you had anything like that on you.

You don't need a reason to carry a folding bladed knife that is 3 inches or less. You may be arrested if you are using it in an unlawful manner. For a blade over 3 inches, locking, full tang or otherwise, you will need a reasonable justification for carrying it. Peeling apples isn't reasonable unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from eating apple skin.

Most cases would need to go to a court of law for definition of what is reasonable justification. I carry a full tang blade longer than 3 inches, but it is always kept in a bergan, not easily accessible and I only carry it if I am out in the field. For most purposes, my Swiss Army Knife is suitable.

The law is there to protect the general public not punish the minority. It will inevitably lead to the conviction of normally law abiding people who have come up against these laws, but as some individuals insist on carrying knives and stabbing each other with them, we can expect a backlash on the rest of us.

One last thing......NEVER, EVER carry something that looks like it is for fighting as you will invaribly have it confiscated and may lead to prosecution. A lot of "Combat" knifes are now being peddled as "Hunting" knifes to get round recent legislation. Avoid these because if you are only using it to whittle a spoon, it can be argued that you could have done it with a Swiss Army Knife and that you didn't need that Rambo, 12" Saw-Topped, Full-Tang Gucci Model that you were using!
 
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ArkAngel

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So just to clarify Jackdaw If i were to carry my normal swiss army knife i would be ok, but to carry my multitool that locks (blade under 3 inches) i would need a reason?
 

Wayland

Hárbarðr
I make my living demonstrating and talking about the lives of our ancestors to schools and in museums all over Britain and on the continent too. At any time I may have one or two fixed blade knives, a scramseax (about the size of a goluk), two axes, two or three swords and a couple of spears in the van.

Add to this a SAK in my pocket and if I am stopped I look like a mobile armoury.

In transit to work I don’t worry too much, entering school premises I always carry paperwork showing the purpose of my visit, so no problem you might think.

Now we get to real life. Most days I leave before six in the morning. As a good neighbor I do not start packing my van at five because it is noisy lumping boxes of equipment and armour about at that time in the morning.

After a days work with 50 or 60 kids I do not particularly feel like emptying the van in the evening either. The end result is that the gear remains in the van between talks on occasion.

Being my only means of transport, that means it travels with me to places where I may not be working, for example, suppose I have finished a presentation to a school and make a detour to a supermarket intending to do some shopping before travelling home. I am now not engaged directly in my work, nor am I travelling directly to or from my work. Even worse, suppose I have two consecutive days work and decide not to unload and reload the van between these times. I have no other transport, so any other journey made in the evening, such as taking the dog to the park, would now constitute an offence without any real form of defence.

Keeping a low profile does not seem to be much help for me either. Perhaps it is because I often have to set out early or perhaps it is because I look like some kind of long haired, dope smoking hippy driving a shiny van (A Viking perhaps?..) I do get stopped regularly by the police.

I remain courteous and so far the searches to my van have been cursory, but sooner or later I’m likely to be found in possession of said equipment.

I usually carry a copy of my criminal records bureaux enhanced disclosure but that only proves I have no record so far.

I seem to be in a cleft stick here. My fate and that of my business hangs on the judgement of an officer out there that does not know me from Adam.

Even if these matters could be sorted out in court there is the impact to my business that such an arrest and court case could make.

Firstly I would be delayed from arriving at my customers premises. Since I would only be allowed one call (probably needed for a solicitor) I would be unable to inform them about this until too late.

Further to this, I dread to think what such an arrest would do to my ability to gain CRB. disclosure, which is very much a requirement for my working in schools with upwards of 6000 children a year.

Of course the resulting media coverage of “Sword wielding maniac arrested at Tesco’s” would destroy any remaining reputation I had left. You can imagine the tabloids caring very little that said sword was never wielded and in fact remained firmly locked away in the car park.

This may all sound a little paranoid but that reflects my growing concern about my legal position.

I'm afraid seeing the growing media coverage of "knife related incidents" and the political reactions to it makes me very nervous indeed. :(
 
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Martyn

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Aug 7, 2003
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Jon Pickett said:
Following on from Stovies "So how does it affect you" thread, I thought I would ask, what reasons would you give to a policeman for carrying your knife ?
I nearly always have a knife with me, usually my leatherman wave, but if I was suddenly stopped in a street and a knife was found on me, I may not be able to come up with a convincing reason for carrying my knife and may have it taken off me. I am the last sort of person to use a knife on another person, but I find having a knife always useful. So do you have any good reasons I could use....................Jon

This is an often asked question on BritishBlades Jon, so much so that we lock threads that ask it. The reason for that is simple.

What you are asking for, is a universal get out of gail free card, that is none specific to time, place or person. A magic "reason" that you can pull out if the eventuality arises. You are asking for a way to duck the law (that's one of the reasons we close such threads on BB).

The reality is, there simply isnt one (that's the other reason we close such threads).

The legislation is clear "good reason" means just that. That means a task or job that you are doing that requires you to have a knife about your person at that time and place. If you actually have such a tast to do, then you dont need to worry about excuses because you have a reason for having the knife. If you dont have such a task any and all excuses you can come up with will be plainly transparent as an excuse and wont count for anything to either a police officer or a magistrate. In spite of your protests, you will be arrested and convicted of posession of a bladed article, contrary to s139 of the 1988 criminal justice act. Your excuse absolutely will not work, it wont convince anyone. The only thing that will work, is a plainly genuine use for the knife ...and they dont need embelishment, they are plainly genuine.

Bottom line, if you have a fixed blade or lock knife about your person and you dont have a job at hand that demands its use, you are breaking the law and there is nothing you can say that will get you off.
 

Martyn

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torjusg said:
I don't know if such random inspections are considered okay and normal in the UK. But if it is, I would consider moving. You ARE living in a police state!

I can think of anything which answers your question though.

Torjus Gaaren

Police cannot stop and search anyone without just cause. They are legally obliged to have a legal reason to stop you. If they suspect you of something illegal, they need to provide sufficient evidence in court to support that suspicion. They cannot simply stop people and search them, just because they feel like it. Random stop & searches do not happen, it would be illegal.
 

Martyn

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ArkAngel said:
So just to clarify Jackdaw If i were to carry my normal swiss army knife i would be ok, but to carry my multitool that locks (blade under 3 inches) i would need a reason?

Exactly right.

The thing is, if you have a reason, then you have one and you are fine, if you dont ...well then you dont. You simply cant invent one on the spot. There simply isnt a thin air excuse that washes. If there was, the law would probably get re-written to exclude it.

It's actually a very clever piece of law. It allows police the freedom to make a judgement about you based on context and it allows the public an almost unlimited set of genuinely reasonable circumstances.

The cop asks you why you are carruying the knife, if your answer sounds reasonable, he lets you go, if it sounds like BS you get arrested and then you need to convice a court. If you actually do have a good reason, then it WILL sound reasonable, if you dont, then whatever you come up with, WILL sound like BS. It's practically a foolproof way of making "just bec ause" knife carry illegal.
 

Martyn

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Wayland said:
I seem to be in a cleft stick here. My fate and that of my business hangs on the judgement of an officer out there that does not know me from Adam.

Even if these matters could be sorted out in court there is the impact to my business that such an arrest and court case could make.

Firstly I would be delayed from arriving at my customers premises. Since I would only be allowed one call (probably needed for a solicitor) I would be unable to inform them about this until too late.

Further to this, I dread to think what such an arrest would do to my ability to gain CRB. disclosure, which is very much a requirement for my working in schools with upwards of 6000 children a year.

Of course the resulting media coverage of “Sword wielding maniac arrested at Tesco’s” would destroy any remaining reputation I had left. You can imagine the tabloids caring very little that said sword was never wielded and in fact remained firmly locked away in the car park.

This may all sound a little paranoid but that reflects my growing concern about my legal position.

You are well briefed on the law Wayland and you understand your predicament well. I'm pretty sure you also realise that your only safe legal position is to empty your van after each trip to and from work.

There is no legal way round that.

I'm afraid it boils down being simply part of your job. Lots of jobs have strict legal requirements. It's a PITA no question, but if you ignore it, as you rightly say (& even though there may be a good chance of you BS'ing your way out of it) you are taking chances with your livelyhood.
 
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