Offence of threatening with an offensive weapon etc in a private place

Part of Offensive Weapons Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:45 pm on 28th November 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means) 3:45 pm, 28th November 2018

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government new clause 17—Search for corrosive substance on school or further education premises.

New clause 1—Protection for retail staff—

‘(1) A person (“the purchaser”) commits an offence if they intentionally obstruct a person (“the seller”) in the exercise of their duties under section 1 of this Act.

(2) In this section, “intentionally obstruct” includes, but is not limited to, a person acting in a threatening manner.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.’

New clause 5—Prohibition of bladed product displays—

‘(1) A person who in the course of a business displays a bladed product in a place in England and Wales or Northern Ireland is guilty of an offence.

(2) The appropriate Minister may by regulations provide for the meaning of “place” in this section.

(3) The appropriate Minister may by regulations make provision for a display in a place which also amounts to an advertisement to be treated for the purposes of offences in England and Wales or Northern Ireland under this Act—

(a) as an advertisement and not as a display, or

(b) as a display and not as an advertisement.

(4) No offence is committed under this section if—

(c) the bladed products are displayed in the course of a business which is part of the bladed product trade,

(d) they are displays for the purpose of that trade, and

(e) the display is accessible only to persons who are engaged in, or employed by, a business which is also part of that trade.

(5) No offence is committed under this section if the display is a requested display to an individual age 18 or over.

(6) The appropriate Minister may provide in regulations that no offence is committed under section 1 of the display complies with requirements specified in regulations.’

New clause 6—Report on the causes behind youth violence with offensive weapons—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must, within 6 months of this Act receiving Royal Assent, lay a report before Parliament on the causes behind youth violence with offensive weapons.

(2) The report under subsection 1 must consider, but is not limited to,

(a) The effect of the reduction in police numbers on the levels of youth violence with offensive weapons;

(b) The effect of the reduction in public spending on—

(i) children’s services,

(ii) Sure Start,

(iii) state-maintained schools,

(iv) local authorities,

(v) youth offending teams,

(vi) Border Force, and

(vii) drug treatment programmes.

(3) The report under subsection 1 and the considerations under subsection 2 must consider the benefits of the public health approach to violence reduction.

(4) The report must contain all departmental evidence held relating to subsection 2 and 3.’

This new clause would require the Secretary of State to review the causes behind youth violence with offensive weapons.

New clause 7—Offence of threatening with an offensive weapon—

‘(1) Section 1A of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 (offence of threatening with offensive weapon in public) is amended as follows.

(a) After “Offence of threatening with offensive weapon” leave out “in public”.

(b) In subsection 1(a), after “weapon” leave out “with him or her in a public place”.

(c) In subsection 3, after “section” leave out ““public place” and “offensive weapon” have” and insert “offensive weapon” has’

This new clause would mean that threatening with an offensive weapon anywhere would be an offence, not merely in a public place.

New clause 10—Threatening with a bladed article or offensive weapon in a dwelling—

‘(1) Section 139AA of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (offence of threatening with article with blade or point or offensive weapon) is amended as follows.

(2) After subsection 12 insert—

13 Where the threatening offence takes place in a dwelling, a person charged with this offence may rely on the defence available in a “householder case” set out in section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.

14 In subsection 13 above, “dwelling” has the meaning given in section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.’

New clause 11—Threatening with a bladed article or offensive weapon in a dwelling (No.2)—

‘(1) Section 1A of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 (offence of threatening with offensive weapon in public) is amended as follows.

(2) After subsection 10 insert—

11 Where the threatening offence takes place in a dwelling, a person charged with this offence may rely on the defence available in a “householder case” set out in section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.

12 In subsection 11 above, “dwelling” has the meaning given in section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.’

New clause 12—Threatening with a bladed article or offensive weapon in a dwelling (No.3)—

‘(1) Section 1A of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 (offence of threatening with offensive weapon in public) is amended as follows.

(2) After subsection 10 insert—

11 Where an offence under this section takes place in a dwelling it shall be a defence for a person charged with such an offence to prove that he had lawful authority or reasonable excuse for having the article with him.

12 In subsection 11 above, “dwelling” has the meaning given in section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.’

New clause 13—Threatening with a bladed article or offensive weapon in a dwelling (No.4)—

‘(1) Section 139AA of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (offence of threatening with article with blade or point or offensive weapon) is amended as follows.

(2) After subsection 12 insert—

13 Where an offence under this section takes place in a dwelling it shall be a defence for a person charged with such an offence to prove that he had lawful authority or reasonable excuse for having the article with him.

14 In subsection 13 above, “dwelling” has the meaning given in section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.’

New clause 14—Protection for retail staff: bladed articles—

‘(1) A person (“the purchaser”) commits an offence if they intentionally obstruct a person (“the seller”) in the exercise of their duties under section 141A of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

(2) In this section, “intentionally obstruct” includes, but is not limited to, a person acting in a threatening manner.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.’

New clause 15—Offence of threatening with blade or offensive weapon (No.2)—

‘(1) Section 139AA of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (offence of threatening with article with blade or point or offensive weapon) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection 1(a), after “applies” leave out “with him or her in a public place or on school premises”.

(3) Omit subsection 2.

(4) Omit subsection 3.

(5) Omit subsection 5.’

This new clause would mean that threatening with a knife anywhere would be an offence, not merely in a public place or school/further education premises.

New clause 20—Offence of threatening with a non-corrosive substance—

‘(1) A person commits an offence if they threaten a person with a substance they claim or imply is corrosive.

(2) It is not a defence for a person to prove that the substance used to threaten a person was not corrosive or listed under schedule 1 of this act.

(3) In this section, “threaten a person” means—

(a) that the person unlawfully and intentionally threatens another person (“A”) with the substance, and

(b) does so in such a way that a reasonable person (“B”) who was exposed to the same threat as A would think that there was an immediate risk of physical harm to B.

(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.’

New clause 21—Prohibition on the possession of a corrosive substance on educational premises—

‘(1) A person commits an offence if that person has a corrosive substance with them on school premises, further education premises or higher education premises.

(2) It shall be a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) to prove that they had good reason or lawful authority for having the corrosive substance on school premises, further education premises or higher education premises.

(3) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2), it is a defence for a person charged in England and Wales or Northern Ireland with an offence under subsection (1) to prove that they had the corrosive substance with them for use at work.

(4) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (3), it is a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (1) to show that they had the corrosive substance with them for use at work.

(5) A person is to be taken to have shown a matter mentioned in subsection (4) or (5) if—

(a) sufficient evidence of the matter is adduced to raise an issue with respect to it, and

(b) the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

(6) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable—

(a) on summary conviction in England and Wales, to an imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, to a fine or to both;

(b) on summary conviction in Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both;

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

(7) In relation to an offence committed before the coming into force of section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (maximum sentence that may be imposed on summary conviction of offence triable either way) the reference in subsection (7)(a) to 12 months is to be read as a reference to 6 months.

(8) A constable may enter any school, further education premises or higher education premises and search those premises and any person on those premises, if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence under this section is, or has been, committed.

(9) If, in the course of a search under this section, a constable discovers a corrosive substance they may seize and retain it.

(10) The constable may use reasonable force, if necessary, in the exercise of entry conferred by this section.

(11) In this section—

“corrosive substance” means a substance which is capable of burning human skin by corrosion;

“school premises” means land used for the purpose of a school, excluding any land occupied solely as a dwelling by a person employed at a school;

“school” has the meaning given by—

(a) in relation to land in England and Wales, section 4 of the Education Act 1996;

(b) in relation to land in Northern Ireland, Article 2(2) of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 (SI 1986/ 594 (NI 3).

“further educational premises” means—

(a) in relation to England and Wales, land used solely for the purposes of—

(b) in relation to Northern Ireland, land used solely for the purposes of an institution of further education within the meaning of Article 2 of the Further Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 (SI 1997/ 1772 (NI 15) excluding any land occupied solely as a dwelling by a person employed at the institution”.

“higher education premises” means an institution which provides higher education;

“institution” includes any training provider (whether or not the training provider would otherwise be regarded as an institution);

“higher education” means education provided by means of a higher education course;

“higher education course” means a course of any description mentioned in Schedule 6 to the Education Reform Act 1988.’

New clause 22—Offence of threatening with corrosive substance on educational premises—

‘(1) A person commits an offence if that person threatens a person with a corrosive substance on school premises, further education premises or higher education premises.

(2) In this section—

“corrosive substance” means a substance which is capable of burning human skin by corrosion;

“threatens a person” means—

(a) unlawfully and intentionally threatens another person (“A”) with a corrosive substance, and

(b) does so in such a way that a reasonable person (“B”) who was exposed to the same threat as A would think that there was an immediate risk of physical harm to B.

“school premises” means land used for the purpose of a school, excluding any land occupied solely as a dwelling by a person employed at a school;

“school” has the meaning given by—

(a) in relation to land in England and Wales, section 4 of the Education Act 1996;

(b) in relation to land in Northern Ireland, Article 2(2) of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 (SI 1986/594 (NI 3).

“further educational premises” means—

(a) in relation to England and Wales, land used solely for the purposes of —

(b) in relation to Northern Ireland, land used solely for the purposes of an institution of further education within the meaning of Article 2 of the Further Education (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 (SI 1997/ 1772 (NI 15) excluding any land occupied solely as a dwelling by a person employed at the institution”.

“higher education premises” means an institution which provides higher education;

“institution” includes any training provider (whether or not the training provider would otherwise be regarded as an institution);

“higher education” means education provided by means of a higher education course;

“higher education course” means a course of any description mentioned in Schedule 6 to the Education Reform Act 1988”.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable—

(a) on summary conviction in England and Wales, to an imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, to a fine or to both;

(b) on summary conviction in Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both;

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

(4) In relation to an offence committed before the coming into force of section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (maximum sentence that may be imposed on summary conviction of offence triable either way) the reference in subsection (7)(a) to 12 months is to be read as a reference to 6 months.’

New clause 23—Advertising offensive weapons online—

‘(1) A person or company commits an offence when a website registered in their name is used to advertise, list or otherwise facilitate the sale of any weapon listed in Schedule 1 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order (SI 1988/2019) or any offensive weapon capable of being disguised as something else.

(2) No offence is committed under this section if—

(a) the website removes the advertisement or list within 24 hours of the registered owner of the website being informed that the advertisement or list includes a weapon listed in Schedule 1 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order (SI 1988/2019) or any offensive weapon capable of being disguised as something else.

(3) The registered owner of a website that is guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable—

(a) on summary conviction in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks, to a fine or to both;

(b) on summary conviction in Scotland or Northern Ireland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.’

New clause 24—Enforcement—

‘(1) It shall be the duty of every authority to which subsection (4) applies to enforce within its area the provisions of Clauses 1, 3, 4, 17 and 20 of this Bill.

(2) An authority in England or Wales to which subsection (4) applies shall have the power to investigate and prosecute for an alleged contravention of any provision imposed by or under this section which was committed outside its area in any part of England and Wales.

(3) A district council in Northern Ireland shall have the power to investigate and prosecute for an alleged contravention of any provision imposed by or under this section which was committed outside its area in any part of Northern Ireland.

(4) The authorities to which this section applies are—

(a) in England, a county council, district council, London Borough Council, the Common Council of the City of London in its capacity as a local authority and the Council of the Isles of Scilly;

(b) in Wales, a county council or a county borough council;

(c) in Scotland, a council constituted under section 2 of the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Act 1994(1);

(d) in Northern Ireland, any district council.

(5) In enforcing this section, an enforcement authority must act in a manner proportionate to the seriousness of the risk and shall take due account of the precautionary principle, and shall encourage and promote voluntary action by producers and distributors.

(6) Notwithstanding subsection (5), an enforcement authority may take any action under this section urgently and without first encouraging and promoting voluntary action if a product poses a serious risk.’

New clause 25—Investigatory powers for trading standards—

‘(1) Schedule 5 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 is amended in accordance with subsection (2).

(2) In Part 2, paragraph 10, at end insert—

“section (Enforcement)”.’

This new clause is consequential on NC24

New clause 26—Aggravated offence of possessing a corrosive substance or dangerous knife—

‘(1) A person is guilty of an aggravated offence of possessing a corrosive substance in a public place if—

(a) they commit an offence under section 6 of this Act, and

(b) at the time of committing the offence, the offender was—

(i) the driver of a moped or motor bicycle, or

(ii) a passenger of a moped or motor bicycle.

(2) A person is guilty of an aggravated offence of possessing certain dangerous knives if—

(a) they commit an offence under section 1A of the Restrictions of Offensive Weapons Act 1959, as amended, and

(b) at the time of committing the offence, the offender was—

(i) the driver of a moped or motor bicycle, or

(ii) a passenger of a moped or motor bicycle.

(3) A person guilty of an aggravated offence under this section is liable—

(a) on summary conviction in England and Wales, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, to a fine or both;

(b) on summary conviction in Scotland, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, to a fine or both.

(4) For the purposes of this section, “moped” and “motor bicycle” have the same meanings as in section 108 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.’

New clause 30—Review of the Act—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must, within one year of this Act receiving Royal Assent, appoint an independent person to conduct an annual review of the provisions contained in this Act and the effect those provisions have had on crimes involving offensive weapons.

(2) The review under section 1 must consider, but is not limited to—

(a) the impact the provisions on corrosive substances have had on crimes involving these substances, and whether these provisions are still adequate;

(b) the impact the provisions on firearms have had on crimes involving these weapons, and whether the provisions are still adequate;

(c) whether existing police funding is sufficient to ensure the adequate enforcement of the provisions of this Act and offences relating to offensive weapons; and

(d) anything else the Secretary of State, or independent person appointed to conduct the review, thinks appropriate.

(3) The annual review under section 1 must be laid before both Houses of Parliament.’

New clause 31—Amendments to the Crossbow Act 1987—

‘(1) The Crossbow Act 1987 is amended as follows.

(2) After section 1 insert—

“1A Requirement of crossbow certificate

(1) Subject to any exemption under this Act, it is an offence for a person to have in their possession, or to purchase or acquire, a crossbow to which this section applies without holding a crossbow certificate in force at the time, or otherwise than as authorised by such a certificate.

(2) It is an offence for a person to fail to comply with a condition subject to which a crossbow certificate is held by them.

(3) This section applies to crossbows with a draw weight of which is to be determined in regulations designated by the Home Secretary, following consultation with—

(a) the National Police Chiefs’ Council;

(b) any other person or body the Home Secretary may deem necessary.”

(3) After section 1A insert—

“1B Application for a crossbow certificate

(1) An application for the grant of a crossbow certificate must be made in the form prescribed by regulations issued by the Home Secretary to the chief officer of police for the area in which the applicant resides and shall state such particulars as may be required by the form.

(2) A crossbow certificate shall be granted where the chief officer of police is satisfied that—

(a) the applicant is fit to be entrusted with a crossbow to which section 1 of this Act applies and is not a person prohibited by this Act from possessing such a crossbow;

(b) that he has a good reason for having in his possession, or for purchasing or acquiring, the crossbow in respect of which the application is made; and

(c) in all the circumstances the applicant can be permitted to have the crossbow in his possession without danger to the public safety or to the peace.”

(3) In section 6 (punishments), in subsection 1, after “section 1” insert – “, or section 1A or section 1B”.

(4) After section 7 insert—

“7A Regulations

(1) A power to make regulations under this Act is exercisable by statutory instrument.

(2) Regulations under this Act may make provisions for the issuing of a crossbow certificate.

(3) A statutory instrument which contains regulations under this Act is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.”’

Amendment 12, in clause 1, page 2, line 11, leave out “imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks” and insert “a community sentence”

This amendment, along with Amendment 13, would replace the custodial sentences for the new offence in Clause 1 (sale of corrosive products to persons under 18) with community sentences.

Amendment 13, page 2, line 14, leave out “imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months” and insert “a community sentence”

This amendment, along with Amendment 12, would replace the custodial sentences for the new offence in Clause 1 (sale of corrosive products to persons under 18) with community sentences.

Amendment 14, in clause 6, page 7, line 7, after “place” insert “with intent to cause injury”

This amendment would make it an offence to have a corrosive substance in a public place only with the intent to cause injury to someone.

Amendment 3, page 8, line 3, after “otherwise” insert

“and means any place other than premises occupied as a private dwelling (including any stair, passage, garden, yard, garage, outhouse or other appurtenance of such premises which is not used in common by the occupants of more than one such dwelling).”

This amendment would extend the definition of public places in relation to England and Wales and Northern Ireland to include communal spaces within residential blocks.

Amendment 15, page 8, line 39, leave out clause 8

This amendment, along with Amendment 16, would remove mandatory custodial sentences for people convicted under the new offence in Clause 6 who have at least one previous relevant conviction.

Amendment 16, page 9, line 37, leave out clause 9

This amendment, along with Amendment 15, would remove mandatory custodial sentences for people convicted under the new offence in Clause 6 who have at least one previous relevant conviction.

Government amendment 56.

Amendment 8, in clause 17, page 16, line 41, at end insert—

“(ab) the seller is not a trusted trader of bladed products, and”

Amendment 9, page 17, line 3, at end insert—

‘(3A) The Secretary of State may by regulations determine the conditions of being designated a trusted trader of bladed products in England and Wales for the purposes of section 17(1)(ab).

(3B) Scottish Ministers may by regulations determine the conditions of being designated a trusted trader of bladed products in Scotland for the purposes of section 17(1)(ab).

(3C) The Department of Justice in Northern Ireland may by regulations determine the conditions of being designated a trusted trader of bladed products in Northern Ireland for the purposes of section 17(1)(ab).”

Amendment 1, in clause 18, page 17, line 44, at end insert—

‘(4A) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under section 17 to prove that they reasonably believed that the buyer bought the bladed product for use for decorating purposes.”

Amendment 2, page 18, line 24, at end insert—

‘(10) For the purposes of this section a bladed product is used by a person for decorating purposes if and only if the product is only used to make improvements, enhancements or repairs to real property or personal property.”

Amendment 4, in clause 23, page 23, line 8, after “further education premises” insert

“and higher education provider premises”

Amendment 5, page 23, line 10, after “further education premises” insert

“and higher education provider premises”

Amendment 7, page 24, line 8, at end insert—

‘(7A) After subsection (6A) insert—

(6B) In this section “higher education provider” means an institution which provides higher education; “institution” includes any training provider (whether or not the training provider would otherwise be regarded as an institution); “higher education” means education provided by means of a higher education course; “higher education course” means a course of any description mentioned in Schedule 6 to the Education Reform Act 1988”.

Amendment 6, page 24, line 11, after “further education premises” insert

“and higher education provider premises”

Government amendments 57 to 61.

Amendment 22, in clause 25, page 26, line 41, leave out “the purpose only of participating in religious ceremonies” and insert “religious reasons only”

This amendment extends the defence to cover the possession of a ceremonial Sikh Kirpan for religious reasons on occasions other than religious ceremonies.

Amendment 17, page 28, line 28, leave out clause 28

This amendment, along with Amendments 18 and 19 would retain the current definition of risk for the existing offences in Section 1A of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 and Section 139AA of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, and for the new offence in Clause 29.

Amendment 11, page 29, line 6, leave out clause 29

This amendment would mean that threatening with a knife anywhere would be an offence, not merely in a public place or school/further education premises.

Amendment 18, in clause 29, page 29, line 14, leave out “(“A”)”

This amendment, along with Amendments 17 and 19, would retain the current definition of risk for the existing offences in Section 1A of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 and Section 139AA of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, and for the new offence in Clause 29.

Amendment 19, page 29, line 16, leave out from “that” to the end of line 18 and insert

“there is an immediate risk of serious physical harm to that person”

This amendment, along with Amendments 17 and 18, would retain the current definition of risk for the existing offences in Section 1A of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 and Section 139AA of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, and for the new offence in Clause 29.

Amendment 10, in clause 39, page 35, line 34, after “section” insert “17(3B),”.

Government amendments 25, 62 and 63.