It is illegal to:
- sell a knife of any kind to anyone under 18 years old (16 to 18 year olds in Scotland can buy cutlery and kitchen knives)
- carry a knife in public without good reason - unless it’s a knife with a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less, e.g. a Swiss Army knife (a "lock knife" does not come into the category of "folding pocket knife" because it is not immediately foldable at all times)
- carry, buy or sell any type of banned knife
- use any knife in a threatening way (including a legal knife, such as a Swiss Army knife)
Good reasons for carrying a knife
Examples of good reasons to carry a knife in public can include:
- taking knives you use at work to and from work
- taking knives to a gallery or museum to be exhibited
- the knife is going to be used for theatre, film, television, historical reenactment or religious purposes, e.g. the kirpan some Sikhs carry
A court will decide if you’ve got a good reason to carry a knife if you’re charged with carrying it illegally.
Examples of knives that are completely banned are:
- disguised knife
- stealth knife & baton
- zombie knife
This is not a complete list of banned knives and weapons. Contact your local police to check if a knife or weapon is illegal.
Guns and firearms
You need a firearms certificate issued by the police to possess, buy or acquire a firearm or shotgun. You must also have a certificate to buy ammunition. It is illegal for anyone aged under 18 to purchase an imitation firearm and for anyone to sell an imitation firearm to someone aged under 18.
Certain firearms are completely prohibited. You won’t be able to get a certificate for them and it is an offence to possess, buy or acquire them without the authority of the Home Secretary.
It is an offence to be in possession of a firearm, a shotgun or dangerous air-weapon and certain ammunition without a certificate or to be in possession of a prohibited weapon.
Carrying a weapon
If you are caught illegally carrying a knife or a gun, even an imitation one you will be arrested and prosecuted. It is no excuse to say it was for your own protection or you were carrying it for someone else.
Remember - the law is clear - if you choose to carry a weapon, you put your future in danger. If you don't take it with you, it won't be used.
Play your part in reducing knife and gun crime by reporting people you know or suspect may be carrying a weapon illegally.
Call your local police on 101, or dial 999 if a crime is in progress or a life is in danger.
If you can't talk to police, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111 or using their online reporting form and give information about crime anonymously.