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Tackling Knife Crime ? A Consultation

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Annex A - Knife Crime Law & Legislation

1. Scots law has always regarded an attack with an offensive weapon as a serious aggravation of the common law crime of assault. Successive legislation has also introduced tighter and more specific controls to tackle the carrying and sale of knives and target the prevention of crime. A wide range of powers is now in force and there are a range of penalties available to the court, including fines and imprisonment. These powers and penalties are set out in a number of pieces of legislation, as set out below.

2. The Restriction of Offensive Weapons Act 1959 prohibits the manufacture, sale or hire, the exposure or possession for the purposes of sale or hire, or the lending or giving to another person, of a flick-knife or gravity knife. The maximum penalty on summary conviction is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding level 4 (£2500) or both.

3. The Criminal Justice Act 1988 makes it an offence to manufacture, import, sell or hire, expose or possess for the purposes of sale or hire, or lend or give to another person any specified offensive weapon. Fifteen weapons have been specified as offensive weapons in Offensive Weapons Orders under this Act; including sword sticks, push daggers, death stars and butterfly knives. The maximum penalty on summary conviction is 6 months imprisonment and a fine not exceeding level 5 (£5000) or both.

4. The Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 prohibits the carrying of offensive weapons in public places without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. The maximum penalty on summary conviction is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum (£5000) or both. The maximum penalty on conviction on indictment is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 4 years, or a fine or both.

5. The Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 also prohibits the carrying of knives and other articles with blades or points in public places. The maximum penalty on summary conviction is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum (£5000) or both. The maximum penalty on conviction on indictment is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, or a fine or both.

NB: The proposals announced for the Police Bill would increase the maximum penalty to four years.

6. The Offensive Weapons Act 1996 amended the Criminal Justice Act 1988 to prohibit the sale of knives to someone under 16 (and also any blade, razor blade, axe, any bladed or sharply pointed article or any item made or adapted for causing personal injury). The maximum penalty on summary conviction is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding level 5 (£5000) or both.

NB: The proposals announced for the Police Bill would increase the minumum age from 16 to 18 for non-domestic knives.

7. The Knives Act 1997 makes it an offence to market a knife in a way which indicates that it is suitable for combat. The maximum penalty on summary conviction is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum (£5000) or both. The maximum penalty on conviction on indictment is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, or a fine or both.