Knife Crime

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If you are facing allegations of knife crime, such as possession of an offensive weapon in a public place – or indeed any other misdemeanours under the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 or Section 1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 – you must seek legal help as soon as possible.

The experts at DPP Law have over 35 years of experience in providing legal advice and assistance to individuals accused of offences relating to knife crime. Here, we’ll look at this category of crime, exploring its potential penalties and explaining how DDP Law can help.

What offences are related to knife crime?

So: what is knife crime – and what offences fall under this category? The term “knife crime” only came into vogue fairly recently, with the UK media chiefly credited with its creation. There is currently no official Home Office definition of the phrase.

However, when considering how it is most commonly applied, we can define the words “knife crime” in a few set ways, such as:

  1. Possession of an offensive weapon
  2. Possession of a bladed article

While there is a crossover between these two definitions, there are clear differences. We’ll explain them below.

Possession of an Offensive Weapon

According to the Prevention of Crime Act 1953, an “offensive weapon” is “any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use by him or by some other person”.

Whilst a bladed article can be an offensive weapon, this is not always the case.

In Section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, a bladed article is defined as “any article that has a blade or is sharply pointed, unless it is a folding pocket knife which has a blade of fewer than 3 inches (7.62 cm) in length”.

If you are found to be carrying a knife or similarly bladed weapon in a public place, you will be committing an offence as long as it can be defined in the manner presented above – and as long as you are unable to successfully give a “good reason” as to why you have it on your person.

A “good reason” for carrying a bladed article may be that you just purchased it for use in cookery, crafting or another innocuous purpose, that you need it for work, or that it is part of your national or religious dress.

Claiming that you were carrying the weapon “for protection”, or on behalf of another individual, does not constitute a “good reason” or a suitable defence.

Sentencing guidelines

Depending on the age of the accused and the perceived severity of the offence, cases related to knife crime may be heard at the Youth Court (for those aged 10-17), the Magistrates’ Court (for “summary offences” such as common assault not causing significant injury).

However, as this is what is known as an “either way offence”, if there are major aggravating factors, or if the weapon-related offence caused significant injury, the case may well be taken to the Crown Court.

The maximum sentence for offences of possession of an offensive weapon or bladed article can range from a fine to 4 years in custody.

The severity of the punishment will depend on the presence of aggravating factors, such as the specific nature of the offence, the identity of any victim or intended victim, and the criminal history of the accused.

Banned knives and offensive weapons

As we have mentioned, it is illegal to carry any bladed article over 7.62 cm in a public place without good reason.

However, there are certain knives that cannot be legally sold at all in the UK. These include:

  • Flick knives (also known as a switchblade or automatic knife). The blade of this knife springs out when a button is pressed
  • Butterfly knives. The blades of these knives are concealed within the handles, which split in two to reveal the point
  • Concealed or disguised knives. These are articles of any kind that contain a hidden blade or point
  • Push daggers/knives. T-shaped weapons with a handle that is grasped so that the short blade protrudes between the two fingers of a fist
  • Gravity knives. The blade of this knife is released from the handle using gravity
  • Knuckle dusters
  • Samurai swords
  • Shuriken (throwing stars)
  • Kyoketsu Shoge (hook knives on ropes or cords)
  • Hollow kubotan (a cylinder-shaped item containing spikes or blades)

There are other banned offences weapons besides the above. A more exhaustive list can be found here.

The team at DPP Law has extensive experience in defending individuals facing knife crime accusations or charges of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

These accusations may include the following:

  • Possession of an article with blade/point in a public place
  • Possession of an article with blade/point on school premises
  • Unauthorised possession in prison of a knife or offensive weapon

What to do if you’ve been arrested for carrying a knife/possession of a bladed article

If you have been reported to – or apprehended by – police for carrying a weapon of this kind, you must seek legal assistance immediately. DPP Law has an emergency arrest line you can use for this purpose.

Our experienced legal specialists may be able to help you prove that you had a good reason to carry the knife: for example, that you were planning to use it for your job, or that you had only just bought it and were transporting it home.

If the knife you were carrying is found to be of an illegal type, or if you cannot prove that you had good reason to carry it, it is highly likely that you will be prosecuted.

DPP Law specialists can sit with you and aid you during police interviews, provide advice and aid you by building the best possible defence – which will likely minimise any sentence you are likely to receive.

Alongside legal representation and guidance on the matter of knife crime, our solicitors can advise individuals on:

Knife Crime: Frequently Asked Questions


What is the minimum sentence for carrying a knife?

If the offence you’ve committed is not found to have any aggravating factors and is thought to be relatively minor – for example, if the reason you’ve given for possessing a knife “falls just short of reasonable excuse”, you may receive a fine rather than a custodial sentence.

Fines can reach up to £5,000. However, with aggravating factors – such as using the weapon to threaten, you will face a minimum of 6 months custodial sentence.

What happens for a first offence of carrying a knife?

It is highly likely that you will be prosecuted if you are found to be illegally carrying a knife, even if it is your first offence. If you are very young, you may simply receive a caution, but this is very rare.

It is most likely that you will be arrested for offences under Section 1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 or the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 if you are found to be carrying a bladed article illegally.

You will be interviewed by police after your arrest. You have the right to confidential legal advice before this interview, and a legal representative may be present during.

The police will then decide whether or not to charge you with an offence.

Contact DPP For Legal Advice

For further information about the legal assistance and advice that can be provided by DPP Law, simply contact our team of experts today. We will do everything we can to aid you.

Alongside this, our criminal defence solicitors can defend you if you have been accused of any of the below criminal offences:

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