Tuesday 16 August 2016

New legislation on "Zombie Knives"

Having article with blade or point in public place:

On 9th May 2014, this blog looked at sentencing for possession of bladed or pointed articles.  The offence is governed by the Criminal Justice Act 1988 section 139.  In that post it was noted how the maximum sentencing powers for possession of such articles had been increased by Parliament but there was some concern that actual sentencing did not reflect those increases.

Sentencing Guidance for Magistrates is now available online and this shows that where the offence is committed in dangerous circumstances but the weapon was not used to threaten or cause fear then 6 weeks custody could be appropriate with a sentencing range of High level community order to committal to Crown Court for sentence - see guidance here.  Where the weapon is used to threaten or cause fear and the offence is committed in dangerous circumstances then the guidance is that Magistrates should commit the offence to the Crown Court for sentencing.

There has been growing concern that so-called Zombie Knives have become a weapon of choice for those with criminal intentions.  The government has secured new legislation on such articles.

Offensive Weapons - Manufacture, selling etc:

Section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988  states

Any person who manufactures, sells or hires or offers for sale or hire, exposes or has in his possession for the purpose of sale or hire, or lends or gives to any other person, a weapon to which this section applies shall be guilty of an offence and liable

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 4 years, or to a fine, or to both.

The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988 (the “1988 Order”) specifies descriptions of weapons to which section 141 applies.

The 1988 Order has now be amended so that the weapon known as a zombie knife, zombie killer knife or zombie slayer knife is included in the list of specified weapons.  The amending statutory instrument is the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons)(Amendment) Order 2016.

2.—(1) The Schedule to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988 (which specifies offensive weapons for the purposes of section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988) is amended as follows.

(2) In paragraph 1, after sub-paragraph (r) insert -

(s) the weapon sometimes known as a “zombie knife”, “zombie killer knife” or “zombie slayer knife”, being a blade with -
(i) a cutting edge;
(ii) a serrated edge; and
(iii) images or words (whether on the blade or handle) that suggest that it is to be used for the purpose of violence.

See the Explanatory Notes to the amending legislation.  The amendment is in force from 18th August 2016.


I did a Google search against "Zombie knife" and it revealed a vast array of potentially highly dangerous articles.  Quite which of them would actually fall within the definition in the new legislation is debatable and, at this time, I am not going to speculate. 

The new legislation apart, those in possession of such items may find themselves charged with the offence under section 139 or possibly an offence under other legislation including the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 (Offensive Weapons) - see CPS Guidance Offensive Weapons, Knives, Bladed and Pointed Articles


1 comment:

  1. As I recall every government over the last 15 or 20 years has made great play about dealing with knife crime. This latest announcement heralds great change? I think not.