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

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East Scout

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Martyn said:
Hey man, no confusion and no blame. :)

But it is a UK based forum and the thread is predominantly about UK knife law, so people will probably assume that responses are Uk specific. It's a hot topic and I'm just keen we dont all get in a muddle with international laws as well. :)


Outstanding and thank you...Last thing I wanna be is the trouble making ****** yank!... :lmao:

ES
 

bambodoggy

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East Scout said:
I wasnt aware there was a Queen Ann's county anywhere in the UK w/ a Kent County north of it. So I figured that be the first clue I wasnt in the UK..Il'l edit my location to be a bit easier for you all..I know its a UK Forum so folks will just assume that a UK topic will be filled w/ Uk members responces..So I take the blame..!

..Very very sorry for the confusion... :D

ES

Lol....I'm not aware of a queen ann's county anywhere in the UK either.....doesn't mean it doesn't exist! lol :D :lmao: :D

Don't worry mate, I was just having a slow moment and should have spotted it myself before I posted. :eek:
Always good to have an opinion from a non uk member about how our laws are different to yours, good to have you here :)

Cheers,

Bam. :D
 

East Scout

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This entire area has just about every other town named after a town in the UK...I have Aberdeen, Salisbury, Chambrige, New Castle....You name the town, I have it here. Its either a name taken from the old country or it has an American Indian name....Lots of history..I often just tell people I live in "Little Britain"..This entire penisula was once named after Lord De La Ware the first Mayor of the Jamestown Colony.........Anyhow I'll stop there ..Sorry for the highjack !

So to stay on topic:

If i was to be stoped by a forest manager (Park Ranger in the US) and I had my Ka-Bar on my belt I would be in troubles? Or is that a valid reason being out in the backside of beyond?

ES
 

chewie

Tenderfoot
Jan 16, 2005
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I've desperately tried to avoid sticking my head above the parapet here, but there is an awful lot of ill-informed misconception about blades/pointed instruments, offensive weapons, arrest and search powers and the like.

Martyn is pretty much spot on with most of the legal stuff he has raised, but what most people are missing is the way the law is both enforced and developed in the UK.

Law is made both by parliament and by way of case stated, so that it develops as time progresses. The fundamental difference between UK enforcement and that in most of the rest of the world is that the Police are given significant discretion in how they enforce the law. Discretion is a fundamental concept in British policing.

Arrest powers were changed by s110 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2005/50015--k.htm#110. ] The discretion given to police is demonstrated by the phrases “A constable may arrest without a warrant” and “anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting” – in other words, the police do not need to know that an offence has been committed, just to be able to justify their suspicion that one has, in order to arrest – and that arrest is optional [may arrest rather than will arrest.]

Stop and search under s1 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 – the single most important crime prevention tool available to a patrolling officer IMHO – similarly requires reasonable grounds. Stop and search when authorised by a senior police officer in apprehension of terrorism or public disorder, or searches authorised by warrants [e.g. pub raids] do not. The vast majority of stop-and search is carried out under s1 PACE84, and I can assure everyone that the average patrolling officer is far more likely to target a s1 PACE search at a known local criminal or tearaway than at the local vicar walking his poodle. It is for this reason that I suspect most members of this forum have never been, nor ever will be, searched in the street. It’s strange that there is so much worry about it.

So, let’s say you have a fixed-blade knife on you, in a rucksack with camping gear, on your way home from a weekend in the woods, and you get a tug for whatever reason. What happens next?

Policing is a peculiar trade and as much an art as a science. Individual officers’ personalities and communication skills do vary, but for the vast majority of officers, one of the first questions that is asked prior to searching is “have you got anything on you I should know about?” This is your opportunity to produce what you have and explain it, should you be carrying something which might for example be subject to s139 CJA88 and require a reasonable excuse. [A dim view is generally taken of things that are subsequently discovered.] Do you really think you are likely to get arrested under these circumstances?

Martyn has explained context and reasonable excuse pretty much to perfection, but if you are any doubt, just think “if I was a jury member would I accept that this reason, on the balance of probabilities, justified the defendant having that specific item at that specific time and place for that specific use, there and then.” This is why the ‘it’s useful, I might need it’ reasons are not acceptable, and why I replaced my leatherman wave with a juice pro with non-locking blades.

I’m old, and I remember life before s139 CJA88. The primary legislation to control knife violence was s1 Prevention of Crimes Act 1953 which created the offence of possession of an offensive weapon. This legislation was excellent and rightly is still in force. An off-weap is, as previously mentioned, anything made, adapted or intended to cause injury.

Examples of made off-weaps include truncheons, knuckle-dusters and flick knives. Adapted off-weaps are things like baseball bats with nails through them, motorbike chains with gaffer-tape handles, and the ubiquitous Jif [a squeezy lemon that has something other than lemon in it]. An intended off-weap is an otherwise innocuous item that its owner intends to use as a weapon.

The average knife is not, and never has been, an offensive weapon, unless it is intended for use as such. Most knives are tools – but have the potential to be used as weapons, just like axes, screwdrivers and claw hammers.

The requirement to prove intent when a local criminal was caught with a kitchen knife in his sock was problematic unless he made a verbal admission of some sort – and few criminals give honest answers to police questions. [Obviously, a drunk crim waving the same knife about at 3am shouting ‘do you want some of this’ would probably show intent to even the most dim-witted of people.]

This in essence is why s139 CJA88 was introduced. The effect of the legislation and subsequent case law is this – if an individual was found with a knife or pointed instrument, other than a non-locking folding pocket knife with a blade of less than 3 inches, the onus was now on that individual to explain why they had it, not on the police to prove that the individual was intending to use it as a weapon.

From my point of view, it was a superb piece of legislation. If you disagree, then perhaps you would like to consider a known street robber who is seen by police following a little old lady away from a post office on pension day. [Known street robber, pension day, following little old lady from post office = reasonable grounds to search in my book.] Suppose the known street robber is searched and found with an ice pick [this is the sort of pointed instrument to which the legislation refers, not a pencil for heaven’s sake – please let common sense prevail.]

Now, you would like that street robber to be arrested, wouldn’t you?
 
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RGRBOX

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Martyn said:
Hey man, no confusion and no blame. :)

But it is a UK based forum and the thread is predominantly about UK knife law, so people will probably assume that responses are Uk specific. It's a hot topic and I'm just keen we dont all get in a muddle with international laws as well. :)

Maybe the name of this thread should have been "Reasons for carrying a knife in the UK.... " I visit the UK from time to time, and I want to know the laws, both here in Switzerland, and internationaly...
 
Martyn said:
Indeed, your MP has said absolutely nothing, other than to mislead you. <SNIP> A good place to start would be with a policeman. :D

Martyn - this response was not penned by the MP, it came directly from the office of the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester (I have the original). The MP merely forwarded on the reply. That is why it ends with "I hope this response goes some way to reassure your constituent."

Don't shoot the messenger! :cool:
 
M

mikehill

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Almost unbelievable that a Chief Constable doesn't know the laws that his workforce should be applying, what chance is there that the average bobby would know them ? :rolleyes:
Mike.
 

Martyn

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RGRBOX said:
Maybe the name of this thread should have been "Reasons for carrying a knife in the UK.... " I visit the UK from time to time, and I want to know the laws, both here in Switzerland, and internationaly...

It probably should've been, but I'm guessing the OP didnt think his question would mature into a deep discourse on knife law in Britain. But, I have added (in the UK) to the thread title for clarity.
 

Martyn

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mikehill said:
Almost unbelievable that a Chief Constable doesn't know the laws that his workforce should be applying, what chance is there that the average bobby would know them ? :rolleyes:
Mike.

Hmmm, I'm sure he does know the law quite well.

I'm guessing what has happened here, is that he has deliberately avoided mentioning the Harris ruling, because it doesnt necessarily convey the spirit of the law. The police use the Harris ruling to arrest people they suspect of being guilty of a crime, not for the harassment of law-abiding citizens - it's a discretional tool and I'm guessing he doesnt want the general populous to think it's going to be applied to them in an ad-hoc manner (which it doesnt).

Still a misleading statement though.
 

Martyn

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chewie said:
Discretion is a fundamental concept in British policing.

Thanks Chewie. I'm guessing from the obvious clarity and detail of your familiarity with the law, that you may be a police officer, whatever, I'm certainly glad of the help. :)

I've avoided commenting on how the law is applied, partly because I'm not really in a position to comment and partly because people seem to want guarantees of legality. But I suppose such a discussion on points of law is badly weighted without it.

As Chewie says, discretion is key. These laws were written to give police officers the tools they need to arrest criminals. I would go a step further than Chewie though and suggest this...

If you are not a criminal, have no criminal record and have no criminal intent, even if you have a lock knife in your pocket without a good reason, you are extremely unlikely to fall foul of these laws. They are not designed for the police to use as a method of harassing ort curtailing your freedoms, they are supposed to be used as tools for the police to use for arresting criminals, or people they strongly suspect are criminals. The PACE laws offer you some protection here, you cant be searched unless the police officer can justify it with reasonable grounds for suspicion.

It is possible to get searched when you are doing nothing wrong and it does happen. If you have a lock knife in your pocket then and dont have a good reason, warn the officer you have a knife in your pocket before he frisks you. If there is absolutely nbothing else about you or the context in which you have this knife, that gives the officer reason to think you are a bad guy, then in all probability, he'll exercise discretion in your favour and give the knife back to you with a warning not to carry it without good cause in the future. It doesnt serve the public interest in any way whatsoever for police to arrest decent people for having a penknife - even though they technically could. Unless there is something else about you that rings alarm bells, you will almost certainly be sent on your way with a friendly warning.

Of course if you want to stay on the right side of the law, then you must always have a good reason for carrying a lock-knife - it's the only reasponsible advice anyone can give. But if you understand how the laws are applied, you'll also be able to put that advice into perspective. ;)
 

chewie

Tenderfoot
Jan 16, 2005
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mikehill said:
Almost unbelievable that a Chief Constable doesn't know the laws that his workforce should be applying, what chance is there that the average bobby would know them ? :rolleyes:
Mike.

Possessing knives is, for the average copper, as bread-and-butter as tying his shoelaces. What you see here is a simplified summary of the difference between an offweap and a bladed/pointed article without going in to the stated cases, with some typos. Try this:

"It is an offence to have with you, without good reason or lawful authority an article which has a blade or is sharply pointed or a folding pocket knife which has a blade the cutting edge of which exceeds 3 inches (7.62 centimetres)"

Like Martyn says:
"Hmmm, I'm sure he does know the law quite well.

I'm guessing what has happened here, is that he has deliberately avoided mentioning the Harris ruling, because it doesnt necessarily convey the spirit of the law. The police use the Harris ruling to arrest people they suspect of being guilty of a crime, not for the harassment of law-abiding citizens - it's a discretional tool and I'm guessing he doesnt want the general populous to think it's going to be applied to them in an ad-hoc manner (which it doesnt)."

He also might think that the populace might have difficulty understanding case law, precedent, context etc., and so skipped around it a bit. Read this thread and the reams of it on British Blades if you think he might be wrong in his assessment...

As several people have tried to say, it is not rocket science to know whether you have good reason to have something with you then and there. If you are trying to fit your circumstances around an excuse, then you haven't got the justification required by law. If you are found with anything other than a non-locking folding pocket knife with a blade length not exceeding 3 inches, then you must justify it to the police officer. If the officer is not satisfied, you will need to justify it to the custody sergeant. If neither of them are satisfied, you will need to justify it to the magistrates.

Discretion means that, if you come across as an upstanding citizen, even if the officer does not like your reasons they may offer you the opportunities of advice / taking it home [unlikely in areas where there is a bit of a problem], confiscation, or they might arrest you - and it is solely the officer's choice what course of action to take.. (This point is well worth some thought before you consider testing your debating ability with a PC who probably deals with this offence several times a week and really has heard it all before.)

Again, as Martyn says, "people seem to want guarantees of legality. " You aren't going to get a cast iron guarantee, because of the principle of discretion and because the courts are there to interpret both the letter and the spirit of the law, unless you carry that which is defined as acceptable by statute and precedent - the non-locking sub-3" folder.

Martyn - ever fancy being a JP?
 

Martyn

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chewie said:
Martyn - ever fancy being a JP?

Cool compliment, thanks. :)

Have I thought about being a magistrate? No, at least not seriously, it has crossed my mind a couple of times. I've thought about it enough to wonder if I have the time and commitment for it and have decided, for the moment at least, that I dont. I do find the law fascinating - or at least the parts of it that I've bumped into on BritishBlades, but I'm not sure that I would find it so compelling if I had to learn reams of it and meter it out on a regular basis. Also, I'd be struggling to get the time off. In ICU's we have one nurse to one patient and I cant take a day off without my job needing cover from a similarly skilled person. I also have to keep abreast of my professional updates too. I have to keep myself current and updated with research etc. ...Also, running BritishBlades takes a lot of commitment, but I enjoy it immensely so it's not a chore - something would have to give though.
 

Mr_Yarrow

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Martyn said:
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.

Not on the london Underground they arent. I have witnessed numerous occassions of late of 'random' stop and search. I believe I am correct in inferring its random as on one occassion there were 5 peopls at once at one tube station being stopped and their bags searched. They were male/female, white/black/asian and aged between 20 and 40.

I dont know if BTP have a differnt set of rules due to their new operation thats been in the papers or if they are acting incorrectly, whatever reason, it IS happening.

Rgds
 

bogflogger

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I have also seen a Senior BTP Officer on the BBC Local News (several times) stating that it would be: "Unacceptable to single out specific groups of people" and that: "We are searching passengers at random."

I would be interested to know Exactly which Act of Parliament gives BTP the Legal Authority to conduct 'Random Stop and Search', because it IS taking place every day in London.
 

Martyn

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bogflogger said:
I have also seen a Senior BTP Officer on the BBC Local News (several times) stating that it would be: "Unacceptable to single out specific groups of people" and that: "We are searching passengers at random."

I would be interested to know Exactly which Act of Parliament gives BTP the Legal Authority to conduct 'Random Stop and Search', because it IS taking place every day in London.

That's interesting.

...I think (and I'm very unsure about this), that the Chief Constable of any force can, under certain circumstances (such as a high level terrorist threat), initiate a random stop and search policy. But I think the exact terms, location and circumstances of the stop and search have to be spelled out in detail and justified. It could be that the BTP have such a PACE exemption in place, following the tube bombings. Could do with a cop to clarify really.

This is the relevant section from PACE...

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
(2) Subject to subsections (3) to (5) below, a constable --

(a) may search-

(i) any person or vehicle;

(ii) anything which is in or on a vehicle,

for stolen or prohibited articles or any article to which subsection (8A) below applies; and

(b) may detain a person or vehicle for the purpose of such a search.

(3) This section does not give a constable power to search a person or vehicle or anything in or on a vehicle unless he has reasonable grounds for suspecting that he will find stolen or prohibited articles or any article to which subsection (8A) below applies (burgalry).
 

bogflogger

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Certainly Could!

As far as I am aware, this is not being conducted under the new "anti-terrorist" legislation, in fact I think I have heard the same BTP spokesman saying that it was not.

Which does leave one wondering, quite which Law is actually being used, to initiate 'Random Stop and Search.' :cool:
 

Martyn

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Aha, see here...

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/index/your_rights/legal_system/police_powers.htm#Stopandsearch
In some circumstances a police officer of the rank of inspector or above can give the police permission to make stops and searches in an area for a certain amount of time - as long as this is for no more than 24 hours. When this permission is in force the police can search for offensive weapons or dangerous instruments whether or not they have grounds for suspecting that people are carrying these items. An officer with the rank of assistant chief constable or above, can also give permission for searches in an area in order to prevent acts of terrorism.

Sounds like the Chief Constable of the BTP has put such an order in place.

This is certainly an invasion of civil liberties, I'm sure the police will agree with that. What we (and they) must decide, is whether this loss of civil liberties on the underground, is an acceptable trade-off, for higher security in the light of the London bombings. The BTP clearly feel it is. But almost exactly one year on, that may be very debateable. If you feel that random stop and searches on the underground, is now past the point of reasonable safety precautions, to the point of being an unjustifiable invasion of your civil liberties, I suggest you write to your MP and express your feelings. Others may feel that an extended random stop and search on the underground is very justifiable in our current climate and may wish it to continue untill the domestic terrorist threat is apparently minimal.

Very personal choice.
 

chewie

Tenderfoot
Jan 16, 2005
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There are a number of powers that could be used for searched without 'reasonable grounds to suspect' first. The most likely one given the date and the current threat level is: s44 Terrorism Act 2000 although there are similar powers in apprehension of disorder. It could just be that, the underground being a place to which the public have no right of way, the searches are just like those before you enter nightclubs and football grounds - if you don't want to be searched, you can't come in.

Personally, I'd rather be searched than suddenly jump 100 metres in the air, then distribute my limbs over a wide radius. Your opinion may differ.
 

Martyn

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chewie said:
Personally, I'd rather be searched than suddenly jump 100 metres in the air, then distribute my limbs over a wide radius. Your opinion may differ.

I think it's a balance of risks. Certainly I'd rather be searched than blown up, but most of all, I'd rather have niether. I doubt we will ever completely remove the threat, so we must decide at what point the risk becomes acceptable. Or forevermore live in a country where the police randomly stop and search people. I dont really like the sound of that. Granted, it's currently only on the underground, but the fear is that it will spread.

There is an argument that says if you have nothing to hide, what is there to worry about. But that's not really the point. I put my letters in envelopes, not because I want to hide what I've written, but because what I've written is nobody elses business but mine and the person who gets the letter. It's about privacy, democracy and liberty. My grandfather fought in the war for it and we really shouldnt let it slip away easily. If this is forced on us by the terrorists, then in a sense, they have won ...at least they have won the errosion of a free and democratic Britain into something ...less.
 
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