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.

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Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women 3:45 pm, 28th November 2018

This group of new clauses and amendments deals with matters on which I know there is a great deal of agreement across the House. I will speak to Government new clauses 16 and 17 and Government amendment 25, and in response to new clauses 7, 10 to 13, 22 and 15 and amendment 11, tabled by my hon. Friend Philip Davies.

Let me start by saying how grateful I am to my hon. Friend for his new clauses and amendment. I know that he has raised this issue in the past, and, of course, he spoke very eloquently about it during our Second Reading debate on 27 June. There are offences available for the prosecution of a person who threatens someone with an offensive weapon in private, but those offences do not describe the criminality sufficiently, and do not attract the same penalties as those that are possible when the offence is committed in public. I have therefore been convinced by my hon. Friend that there is a gap in the law that should be filled.

Under new clause 16, it would be an offence for a person unlawfully and intentionally to threaten another person with a corrosive substance, a bladed or pointed article, or an offensive weapon in a way that poses an immediate risk of serious physical harm to that person. The offence will apply in any private place, which means anywhere other than a public place or school, or further education premises, where it is already an offence. In respect of a corrosive substance, a private place means anywhere other than a public place. The lawyers have been terribly exercised about that.