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Draft guidance published to underpin the Offensive Weapons Act

Home Secretary Priti Patel has launched 2 consultations paving the way for new powers to tackle knife crime.

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Draft guidance published on August 15 sets out how Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs) will provide an additional tool for police to steer young people away from serious violence.

The Home Office has also published draft statutory guidance on sections of the Offensive Weapons Act that deal with the possession, sale and delivery of knives, corrosives and certain offensive weapons, and the use of these to threaten others.

KCPOs are civil orders which can be imposed by courts on any person aged 12 or over who police believe is carrying a knife or people previously convicted of a knife related offence.

The orders - also part of the Offensive Weapons Act - are intended to be preventative rather than punitive, addressing factors that may increase the chances of offending through requirements such as attendance at educational courses, life skills programmes, participation in group sports, drug rehabilitation and anger management classes.

Courts will also be able to impose measures to prohibit activities such as associating with certain people, or to introduce geographical restrictions and curfews to help prevent further offences.

The Offensive Weapons Act, which received Royal Assent in May 2019, forms part of the government’s action to tackle serious violence, which has been bolstered by the recruitment drive for 20,000 new police officers over the next three years, and the extension of a stop and search pilot to all forces in England and Wales.

The Home Secretary said:

We are cracking down on violent crime, which has a devastating impact on victims, their families and our communities.

Our Offensive Weapons Act will help to stop acids and knives making their way onto our streets and being used to carry out horrifying attacks.

This government will always give the police the support, resources and powers they need – including recruiting 20,000 new officers over the next three years and empowering them to use stop and search.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Serious Violent Crime, Acting Deputy Chief Constable Jackie Sebire said:

Knife Crime Prevention Orders will provide police with a further means to help deter young people from becoming involved in knife possession and knife crime.

These Orders will help to make young people stop and think about the choices and consequences of carrying a knife.

We know that early intervention is the best way to prevent knife crime and we continue to work alongside schools, charities and community groups, alongside the use of a range of other tactics.

Chief Superintendent Ade Adelekan, who heads up the Metropolitan Police’s Violent Crime Task Force, said:

The Met supports the proposed Knife Crime Prevention Orders.

We feel they will help to discourage more young people from carrying knives in a positive rather than punitive format, giving them support and pathways away from potential crime or negative influences.

We will continue to work closely with our partners, particularly the new Violence Reduction Unit, the Home Office, local government and third sector organisations to not only suppress violence in the short-term, but to help take a truly integrated approach to long-term problem-solving, to help keep young people safe.

As the draft guidance makes clear, the nature of any requirements included in a KCPO will be for the court to determine. KCPOs will be piloted before they are rolled out across England and Wales.

The Offensive Weapons Act was introduced to enhance the response to serious violence, including knife crime and corrosives attacks.

It includes measures to:

  • ban the sale of corrosive products to under-18s and make the possession of a corrosive substance in a public place a criminal offence

  • stop knives being sent to residential addresses after they are bought online, unless the seller has an arrangement with the delivery company to ensure the product will not be delivered to a person under 18

  • update the definition of flick knives to reflect changing weapons designs

  • amend existing legislation to ban possession in private of certain weapons such as knuckledusters and zombie knives

  • change the legal definition for threatening someone with an offensive weapon

The draft guidance on these measures is aimed at agencies who will be responsible for enforcing the legislation, such as police and trading standards.

It also sets out how individuals, and organisations such as retailers and manufacturers, can comply with the Act.

Both guidance documents will now be subject to public consultations, which will allow stakeholders to put forward their views, before the final versions are published and the measures brought in to effect.

Published 19 August 2019