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

May I make a little more progress?

In relation to the issue of a private place, it will become an offence to threaten someone with a corrosive substance on educational premises, for example, a point raised under new clause 22 by Stephen Timms. This provides for a maximum penalty of four years, in line with the maximum penalty for the public offence and considerably more than the current six-month maximum for a threat that amounts to common assault, which is the offence that may be charged currently.

The Government amendment would avoid householders having to justify owning their kitchen knives—again that demonstrates the balancing exercise we have had to do in this Bill. It targets the criminality that my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley wants to address while denying my fellow lawyers the chance to argue about possessing domestic implements, a sentiment I know my hon. Friend will endorse. New clause 17 will provide the necessary powers to enter and search for a corrosive substance on school and further education premises in support of the new offence.

Government amendment 25 simply sets the extent of the new offence as England and Wales, but I know my hon. Friend and others are keen to ensure that householders who have to defend themselves against burglars are not caught inadvertently by this new offence. That is not the intention of the Government, or I suspect the House, if this new offence is passed. The new offence is designed to capture perpetrators who have no recourse to the well-established defences of self-defence, defence of another and defence of property.