Carrying knives in public: frequently asked questions

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  • What kind of knives can I carry in public?

    The only article with a blade or point that you can carry in public is a folding pocket knife with a cutting edge not exceeding 3 inches. It is a matter for the courts to determine what would be an article with a blade or that is sharply pointed.

    A knife could also be an offensive weapon for the purposes of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953, which prohibits the carrying of offensive weapons without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. It is a matter for the courts to determine what constitutes lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

  • Can I carry a folding knife in public if the blade does not exceed 7.62 centimetres (3 inches)?

    The prohibition of carrying an article with blade or point in a public place (section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988) does not apply to a folding pocket knife if the cutting edge of its blade does not exceed 7.62 centimetres (3 inches).

    However, under the Prevention of Crime Act 1953, it could still be an offence if the article is being carried with the intention to cause injury.

    It should be noted that it has been determined that a lock knife does not come into the category of folding pocket knives (see Blades ? lock knives).

  • Can I carry my multi-tool knife in a public place?

    Possession of a multi-tool knife is capable of being an offence if it contains a blade or point (except a folding pocket knife of less than 3 inches), even if there are other tools on the instrument (for example, screwdriver or can-opener) that may be of use to a person in a public place.

    In addition, if a multi-tool knife is being carried with the intention to cause injury, then the person carrying it could be committing an offence under the Prevention of Crime Act 1953.

  • Can I carry a knife in public if I need it for my work?

    The Prevention of Crime Act 1953 prohibits the carrying of offensive weapons in public places without lawful authority or reasonable excuse. It is a matter for the courts to determine what constitutes lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

    It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 to prove that he or she had good reason or lawful authority to have the article in a public place.

    In addition, it is a defence to prove that the article is for use at work. However, it is a matter for the courts whether this defence applies in a particular case.