By Alex Close-Claughton, 31st October 2022
Most people will be aware that those without a firearms certificate are not legally allowed to possess a firearm at home or in public. Many others will also be aware that it is illegal to carry an offensive weapon such as knives or knuckle dusters in public. However, some may not be aware that since the adoption of the Offensive Weapons Act in 2021, many weapons are now unlawful to possess in a private location.
Are you legally allowed to keep weapons at home?
The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 has made all weapons scheduled under Section 141 Criminal Justice Act 1998 unlawful to possess in private. This includes (but not exclusively) knuckle dusters, sword sticks, push daggers, death stars, zombie knives, butterfly knives, flick knives, telescopic truncheons, batons and handclaws.
What is the punishment for possession of an offensive weapon in private?
Those found with such weapons in their home or in another private location risk being prosecuted for the offence of Possession of an Offensive Weapon in a Private Place. This is a summary only offence in England and Wales (meaning it can only be dealt with by the Magistrates Court) and is punishable by a maximum of 51 weeks imprisonment.
This doesn’t mean that defendants will automatically be sentenced to prison and many individuals convicted of this offence will avoid custody.
What are the defences to Possession of an Offensive Weapon in a Private Place?
As with the public equivalent, it is a defence to be in possession of the weapon for religious or ceremonial purposes.
Further, weapons that can be shown to be of historical importance remain permitted. It is also a defence for a person be in possession of the weapon in question in their capacity as the operator of, or as a person acting on behalf of, a museum or gallery. The same applies to those who possess the weapon for educational purposes. Similarly, it is permitted to possess such a weapon for the purposes of theatrical performances, or for TV or film.