Knives: Get the facts

Is it illegal to carry a knife?

It is illegal to carry any sharply pointed or bladed article in a public place (with the exception of a folding pocket knife, which has a blade that is less than 7.62cm or 3 inches).

A lock knife is NOT a folding pocketknife and therefore it is illegal to carry these knives regardless of the length of the blade.

Possession of a lock knife in a public place without reasonable excuse IS an offence.

Possession of a multi-tool incorporating a prohibited blade / pointed article is capable of being an offence under this section even if there are other tools on the instrument that may be of use to a person in a public place (screwdriver, can opener).

What are the penalties for being caught with an illegal knife?

The penalty for committing this offence is a minimum six-month prison sentence (if aged over 18), or maximum of four years and/or an unlimited fine.

Why shouldn’t I carry a knife?

There has been an increase in the carrying of weapons illegally, particularly among young people. Here are just some of the excuses given by people:

“Its cool to carry a knife, although I would never use it”

“I've got it for protection” “It makes me feel safer”

The reality is that in the heat of the moment, out comes the knife, often with tragic results.

There are also lots of examples where the knife carrier has had their own weapon turned on them.

Even if someone feels safer, the fact is by carrying a knife; they have put themselves in a much more dangerous and unsafe position.

This is apart from the fact that they may find themselves on the wrong side of the law and get a criminal record.

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I'm worried my child is carrying a knife
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If your child is carrying a knife or may have used a knife to injure someone, you should report it, even if you know they will get into trouble. It's better they get into trouble now than get seriously injured or even killed.

  • Your child doesn't need to know it was you who reported it.
  • You could speak to your local Safer Neighborhoods Team. If it's an emergency call 999 now.
  • If you feel unable to talk to the police, you could contact the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111. (You don't have to give your name and your call will not be traced).
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Is it illegal to sell knives?
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No, it is not illegal for a legitimate retailer to sell many types of knives, however it is an offence for any retailer to sell a knife to someone under the age of 18.

Some types of knives are illegal to sell to anyone irrespective of age. Section 10 of The Knives Act 1997 indentifies knives that are designated as 'suitable for combat' (Combat Knives). These may also be classified as offensive weapons and include:

  • Flick-knives, gravity knives, belt buckle knives
  • Swordsticks containing a blade
  • Push daggers, butterfly knives
  • Kyotetsu shoge (a rope, cord or chain fastened to a hooked knife)
  • Hand and foot claws, hollow kybatan with spikes, shuriken or death star
  • Kusari gamã (a rope, cord, wire or chain fastened at one end to a sickle)

What does the law say about the sale of knives and similar sharp objects to young people?

It is an offence for anyone to sell to a person who is under the age of 18 any knife, knife blade, razor blade, axe, other article having a blade or which is sharply pointed and which is made or adapted for causing injury.

Are there any exemptions? The only exemptions from the above are for:

  • Folding pocket knives having a cutting edge less than 7.62cm (3") long
  • Razor blades that are permanently enclosed in a cartridge or housing

What are the penalties for breaking the law?

If an illegal sale is made, the retailer can be prosecuted and face an unlimited fine or a prison term of up to 6 months, or both.

What should retailers do?

Retailers should ensure that they have set up a system to ensure that they have done all that is reasonable to prevent them selling knives and similar items to young people.

If they are unsure how old a person is, they should ask for proof of age. If any doubt remains, they should always refuse the sale. A retailer can refuse to sell anything to anybody if they so wish.

What should I do if I know someone is carrying a knife or selling knives illegally?

You need to tell someone about it, preferably someone in authority such as a Police Officer, Police Community Support Officer or Community Warden.

If you are still at school, tell a member of school staff or a parent.

If you want to remain anonymous ring CRIMESTOPPERS on 0800 555111

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Could I be searched?
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Yes you could, as the police are actively trying to reduce knife related crime.

Under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the police can stop and search any person, vehicle, and anything in or on the vehicle for certain items.

However, before they stop and search they must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that they will find:

  • Stolen goods.
  • An offensive weapon or a sharply pointed or bladed article.
  • Any article made, adapted or intended for use in certain offences, for exmple: a burglary, theft or to damage or destroy property (such as spray paint cans).
  • A firework.

The grounds and object of the search plus the identity and station of the searching officer must be explained to you prior to the search commencing.

In all cases of search a record will be made of the search. You are entitled to a copy of this search record.

Under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, a police officer of the rank of Inspector or above may also give authority for a constable in uniform to stop and search anyone in a particular area for knives or offensive weapons.

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How can I dispose of unwanted knives?
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There will be Amnesty Bins placed in police station foyers and some other locations throughout the county. You can deposit knives in these anonymously without penalty.

Visit www.suffolk.police.uk for locations of the bins

For your own safety and safety of police staff, please make efforts to wrap the blade or make the knife incapable of being opened or operated.

If you are unable to visit one of these bins or have a large quantity of knives that you want to dispose of through the Bin a Blade amnesty, please call 101 and ask to speak to your local Safer Neighbourhood Team who may be able to arrange collection.

Why should I dispose of unwanted knives

Many of the knives routinely carried are knives taken from the home; kitchen knives, craft knives or ornamental knives. Any knives we have surrendered are out of circulation and can no longer be used to harm anyone.


What if I am stopped on my way to hand the knife in to a police station or Amnesty Bin?

Officers do have discretion in how they deal with you; however, it will be for you to prove that you were intending to hand it in.

Our advice is to take steps to make this obvious by wrapping the blade in cardboard and know where it can be handed in or the location of an Amnesty Bin before setting out.

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What are the aims of the 'Bin a Blade campaign?
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The aims of the campaign are as follows:

  • Raise public awareness
  • To reduce the number of knives in circulation
  • Promote public safety.
  • Challenge knife carrying