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

Part of Offensive Weapons Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 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 5:45 pm, 28th November 2018

I thank all Members for a most interesting and informative debate. I want to clarify a point made by Gavin Robinson about the applicability of measures on corrosive substances in Northern Ireland. Those measures are within scope for Northern Ireland. It is possible for them to extend to Northern Ireland, and I will ask officials to look into that with their Northern Irish colleagues.

I thank Stephen Timms for his contribution on new clause 23. Anyone who sells or hires, offers for sale or hire, exposes or has in his possession for the purpose of sale or hire anything contained in the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988 is guilty of an offence. That applies to not only people but bodies corporate. Where the user of a website places advertisements for anything contained in the order on that website, the website service provider may be able to rely on the defence under regulation 19 of the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002. Whether regulation 19 applies will depend on the facts of the case. There may well be jurisdictional issues if the service provider is based overseas. Regulation 19 does not apply where the provider of the website is offering the items for sale directly and where the provider had actual knowledge of the unlawful activity. We therefore consider that the provider of a website who sells items on it directly would be likely to be caught under the wording of the legislation. Where the provider of the website is enabling advertisements to be placed by others, the defence under regulation 19 may be available. That is an awful lot of legalese, but this discussion is timely, as the Government prepare the online harms White Paper.

I turn to amendments 8, 9 and 10, tabled by Paul Blomfield. Age verification checks cannot be done only at the point when the seller is processing the sale and preparing the item to be dispatched. Checks also need to be done when the item is handed to the purchaser. That is why we are stopping bladed products—namely, articles with a blade capable of causing serious injury—from being delivered to residential addresses. The amendments would undermine what the Bill is trying to achieve and seem to introduce some sort of validation scheme by the Government to enable certain online sellers—those awarded trusted seller status—to deliver bladed products to residential addresses. That goes against what the Bill seeks.