Measures to keep dangerous weapons off the streets are a step closer today with the opening of a surrender scheme, under prohibitions introduced in the Offensive Weapons Act.
The surrender scheme marks an important development in the government’s commitment to tackling serious violence and strengthening police powers to take action against it.
Under the scheme, offensive weapons that will soon be prohibited as well as rapid firing rifles, which fire at a rate closer to semi-automatic rifles, can be surrendered to the police. Lawful owners will be able to claim compensation for the items in most cases.
This follows the Offensive Weapons Act which bans possession of dangerous and offensive weapons in private. The list of weapons includes zombie knives, cyclone knives, knuckledusters, death star knives, flick knives, gravity knives, batons, disguised knives, push daggers and other offensive weapons. It was already illegal to possess a knife or offensive weapon in public.
Crime and Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, said:
I am committed to ensuring our streets are safe from the scourge of violent crime.
We are prohibiting ownership of dangerous weapons which have a high potential for causing harm - every item surrendered is one which can no longer fall into the hands of criminals.
The government’s top priority will always be keeping the public safe and we are ensuring that our laws and police powers deliver on these commitments.
The scheme will run for 3 months from 10 December 2020 to 9 March 2021. Lawful owners will be able to claim compensation if the total value of the claim is more than £30. Claims can be submitted to the police using a form.
This scheme is in addition to knife amnesties that are routinely conducted by police forces.
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on knife crime, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty, said:
Tackling knife crime and reducing violence is a top priority for policing. The surrender scheme will enable us to remove dangerous weapons off the streets and assist in keeping our communities safe.
Every weapon removed is possibly a life saved and I urge people to please help us make our streets safer.
The Offensive Weapons Act is part of wider a government commitment to reducing serious violent crime, providing safer streets and neighbourhoods for everyone. This includes:
introducing Knife Crime Prevention Orders which are intended to be preventative, helping young people at risk of being drawn into knife crime to change their behaviour
making it unlawful to dispatch bladed products sold online without measures in place to ensure they are not delivered into the hands of a person under 18
changing the legal definition for threatening someone with an offensive weapon to make prosecutions easier
banning the sale and delivery of corrosive products to under 18s and making it an offence to possess a corrosive substance in a public place
The government is also boosting police numbers with 20,000 additional officers, almost 6,000 of which have already been recruited. New laws will also make it easier for police to use stop and search powers for those previously convicted of knife crime.
The full surrender scheme applies in England and Wales which relates to certain knives and other offensive weapons, as well as rapid firing rifles, their ancillary equipment and bump stocks. The scheme extends to Scotland and Northern Ireland only with respect to firearms, their ancillary equipment and bump stocks.
Guidance is available providing a list of items covered, guidance on how to travel with and surrender weapons safely, and compensation levels.