As you are no doubt aware, the UK Government are moving ahead to pass the Offensive Weapons Bill, which at the time of writing has progressed to Report stage in the House of Lords. The pending law changes regarding knives, combined with current public feeling regarding knife crime, has created no small amount of uncertainty for both customer and retailer.


The following information is NOT legal advice, and is for information only. We must stress that we are not legal experts, and would advise a person to seek independent legal advice on any matter pertaining to the carrying of a knife or edged tool.


Basic laws on knives

It’s illegal to:

  • sell a knife to anyone under 18, unless it has a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less
  • carry a knife in public without good reason, unless it has a folding blade with a cutting  edge 3 inches long or less
  • carry, buy or sell any type of banned knife
  • use any knife in a threatening way (even a legal knife)



In Scotland, 16 to 18 year olds are allowed to buy cutlery and kitchen knives.


Lock knives

Lock knives are not classed as folding knives and are illegal to carry in public without good reason. Lock knives:

  • have blades that can be locked and refolded only by pressing a button or similar
  • can include multi-tool knives - tools that also contain other devices such as a screwdriver or can opener


Good reasons for carrying a knife or weapon

Examples of good reasons to carry a knife or weapon in public can include:

  • taking knives you use at work to and from work
  • taking it to a gallery or museum to be exhibited
  • if it’ll be used for theatre, film, television, historical reenactment or religious purposes, for example the kirpan some Sikhs carry        
  • if it’ll be used in a demonstration or to teach someone how to use it

A court will decide if you’ve got a good reason to carry a knife or a weapon if you’re charged with carrying it illegally.


Reasonable grounds for carrying a knife or edged tool, would be a requirement for the use of the tool for lawful purposes. A carpenter, a farmer, a gamekeeper or a member of the Sealed Knot Reenactment Society would have good reasons for the carrying of a knife, for example.

Anglers, campers, backpackers and bushcrafters could also argue reasonable grounds for carrying a knife, but be aware that in built-up areas your reasonable grounds for carrying a knife could diminish significantly.


A non-locking folding knife is an exception to the law, but even here one must also be aware of one’s responsibilities to act reasonably. Taking a three-inch non-locking folding knife into a pub or a shop for example, could be asking for trouble. An airport or government building could have more stringent prohibitions, and it is always advisable to check the relevant law for any public place that you may visit whilst carrying a knife or edged tool.


Likewise, simply forgetting that you have a knife on your belt or rucksack, or in your car, could also leave you liable to arrest and prosecution should you fail to convince the police officer of a good reason for carrying. People have been successfully prosecuted for keeping a locking, folding multi-tool in the glove compartment of their car.


Should you have any doubts about a knife or edged tool that you own, you can seek further advice from your local police station.

We hope the foregoing helps clarify a few of the uncertainties around UK Knife Law. Although it will be down to the discretion of the police officer or official should you be stopped, if you have good reason, the likelihood is that you will be okay. Here is a link to help:-



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Product no.: 15107
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