2018 UK Knife Law Changes

Changes to UK Knife Law and what it means for the outdoor enthusiast

In the past weeks the news has featured several stories on UK knife crimes, knife law and the perception of knives as weapons as well as tools. This was followed by the announcement of a new Offensive Weapons Bill which will begin the process of changing of what is considered a legal knife, where they can be used/carried by the general public and how they can be acquired.
Last year a consultation on offensive and dangerous weapons was published, which caused a lot of discussion online from knife makers, owners and collectors from all sectors.

Whilst this is currently a bill (not yet an Act of Parliament, see the differences here) it is likely that some significant changes are coming for those who collect knives or purchase them for outdoor use.

Knives Purchased Online

The big changes are mostly about the types of knives and ‘weapons’ that can be owned in private and where they can be carried, but one change that is likely to have an impact on an outdoor user is a ban on knives being bought online being shipped to a residential address. Exactly how this will work and what workarounds can be created (shipping to a work address, pickup from a nominated place and so on) remains to be seen, but it will add a layer of complexity for those buying knives online.

Flick Knives and One-Handed Opening

Something mentioned in the original consultation document was an update to the definition of what constitutes an (already banned in the U.K.) flick knife:

England, Wales and Scotland
The current definition of flick knives in the Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1959 is
outdated and refers to the mechanism that activates the blade being in the handle. We will
delete the reference to the switch blade mechanism being in the handle, as manufacturers
now place the mechanism in a part of the knife that can be argued is part of the blade.
This means the prohibition on the sale, manufacture and importing of flick knives cannot
be circumvented through changes in their design.

Will this include knives with a thumbstud that can be opened with one hand? If so this will include knives that are very useful as rescue tools for climbing, mountaineering and canoeing/kayaking where one-handed operation could be crucial for a lifesaving cutaway from a rope entrapment.

UK Knife Law and EDC

This isn’t the first post we’ve put together on UK knife laws for the outdoor user, but it’s important in a country with strict knife-carry laws to be aware of any changes made and, potentially, how your useful outdoor tool is perceived by someone else.

UK Knife Law video on the Original Outdoors Youtube Channel

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5 Comments
  1. Very useful video. Thanks for making it so clear and sharing your own personal views. I just stumbled over your site because on the weekend, I am doing a small talk on EDC at a men’s day, which I hope will be fun. I thought I should make sure that I was up to speed on UK knife law because of the danger of carrying something which could get someone into trouble.
    Being from rural Shropshire, I was saddened to hear of your attack. We now live in Telford and I work in a homelessness support centre so knife crime is never far from my mind.
    I wholeheartedly agree with you regarding some of the futile safeguards. The knives I have had handed in to me when I suspected a carry have been kitchen knives and one inadvertently dropping out of someone’s trouser leg!
    Thanks for posting. Really helpful. Best wishes. Steve.

  2. I fear something more worrying is in the offing, which you haven’t mentioned. The Bill currently passing through Parliament is proposing to more closely define ‘good reason’ for carrying a non-legal bladed article, and specifies religious/cultural costume, work, and education as the ONLY possible qualifying reasons. Crucially for ‘outdoor pursuits’, hobbies, sports and pastimes are not within any of those categories. This could be the final nail in the coffin for bush crafting etc, and it is to be hoped that more sensible heads prevail within the legislature before it becomes law.
    Your personal views on the ‘knife crime’ issue and the politics linked to it are, if I may say so, well reasoned and eloquently expressed. The problem with our approach to law is that we like banning things, but we’re not as good at addressing behaviours (which is of course more of a challenge). Hence we now have a situation where this 58-year-old is criminalised (and becomes a ‘knife crime statistic’ if he has a Opinel Number 8 in his pocket for eating his lunchtime bread and cheese on a country walk, while young already-multiply-convicted drug-dealing gangsta thugs think nothing of sticking their mums’ cheap kitchen knives in each other. Crazy world, and it’s getting crazier.
    One afterthought if I may: if we’re saying we’ve got such a terrible knife violence problem in our cities, why did we rubbish a certain Mr Trump for saying just that only a few months ago?

  3. Thank you for this video!!
    Clarification on an important yet vague subject.
    Personally I think you should be producing public
    information films..
    I have carried a 3” folding knife for forty years it’s
    boundlessly useful.
    Being a responsible member of the public I am
    hoping to be carrying it for another forty
    years..
    Please keep up the good work.

  4. intelligent vid my views are the same glad you made this vid .

  5. Hi thanks,
    I looked this up because I noticed a confusing poster in the airport yesterday about knives. I often (always) need either a sheathed knife or a machete when I travel abroad on my expeditions. And I had a sheathed knife concealed away in my pack in the airport yesterday. The poster was quite clear and said “it was illegal under any circumstances to carry without a certificate”. I’ve not heard of a certificate (I guess like a firearms cert), but I obviously need to obtain one, if they exist.

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