British Knife Laws: Everything You Need To Know

Knife laws obviously change by each country and the jurisdiction they are under. One place where knife laws are largely different to the US is in the UK, or Britain.

In the UK guns are almost totally illegal, much different to the US, there’s no gun carry laws, if you are caught with one and you aren’t a police officer or on military duty, you will likely go to jail for a long time unless you can prove why you had a gun.

British Knife Laws: Everything You Need To Know

The rules are pretty similar with knives as a result, but an obvious issue is present as most kitchens across the globe have lethal knives in them as well as other legal uses of knives like fishing.

Obviously you won’t get arrested for cutting an onion in your kitchen, so where are the gray areas?

We’ve covered everything you need to know in this guide to British knife laws.

Who Can Buy Knives?

In England, if you are under the age of 18 you cannot buy anything that can be considered as a weapon.

This means if you are 17 and they go to the store to buy a kitchen knife they won’t be allowed to buy it unless they are with an adult who can prove their age.

Yet, in Scotland if you are 16 or over you are legally allowed to buy cutlery and kitchen knives but not more lethal knives such as a fishing knife.

Similarly, if you sell, hire, or lend a knife to someone, this is also the same level of illegality.

If you are over the age of 18 you can technically buy any kind of knife that is legally allowed to be sold in the UK.

What If You Are Caught With A Knife On You?

This depends on what you are carrying, but also depends on what the law considers to be a knife or a lethal weapon.

For instance, kitchen knives are legal but if you are carrying one on you for no reason you will be arrested.

Folding blades that are less than 3 inches in length are also technically legal, but if you can’t provide a justifiable reason why you have one on you, you will likely be arrested.

The official standing is that it is illegal to bring into the UK, possess, sell, hire, lend or give someone a banned knife unless you are exempt for a good reason.

This basically classes as literally any weapon, covering everything from a shuriken, blowpipe, to a baton or knuckle duster.

If you are caught with a weapon in the UK and you can’t provide a proper reason for why you have the knife, or deadly weapon, on you, then you are going to be subject to a minimum of 4 years in prison as well as an unlimited fine.

Prison sentences are given when caught with a knife more than once. These same rules apply if you use a weapon of any deadly quality in a threatening way.

This means that if you threaten someone with a butter knife you would eat your dinner with then you are still subject to the same law as you are carrying a weapon.

What Is A Good Reason To Be Carrying A Knife?

In particular circumstances, a knife that could be considered lethal may be exempt from the law if there is a good reason you are using it.

For instance, folding blades less than three inches are technically legal if you have a reason to carry.

If you work on a farm for instance and you can prove that you work there and your job practically requires some form of knife then you may be exempt.

Another example may be fishing which is very common in the UK.

Fishing blades often exceed three inches and aren’t always foldable, but within a fishing context you are technically allowed to have a fishing knife.

Another gray area may be historical recreation or religious reasons.

The UK has a large and thriving Sikh community, their religion may require them to carry a ceremonial sword with them in particular situations known as a kirpan.

The law recognizes this is ceremonial as well as religious and if you are a practicing Sikh you can carry a sword on you in certain situations.

In the same vein, if you are a historical recreationist and you are using medieval replica swords or something similar, this is another situation where you can technically wield a lethal weapon.

However, in both these situations, if the wielding party were to use the weapon in any genuinely threatening manner, or actually used it to hurt someone purposefully, then you will be subject to the same laws if you were carrying a pen knife on the street.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, weaponry laws in the UK are pretty strict.

As guns are not legal in the UK, those with malicious intent will often seek out the knife as the next most deadly weapon so knife crime is often ripe in the UK but is equally clamped down on by their law enforcement agency.

The bottom line in the UK is if you are carrying anything that can be considered to be a weapon, and you cannot excuse that you are using it with lethal intent, in other words you cannot provide a good reason why you have the weapon, then you will face a minimum of 4 years in prison if it is your first offense, and also an unlimited fine as the court decides.

This is everything you need to know about the knife laws in the UK. In summary, you don’t want to be caught with a knife or any weapon ever.

If you are going to carry a knife you need a good reason to carry it.

If you want to carry a knife in the UK for whatever reason you can contact the police and ask them if the knife would be legal to carry in the ways you want to.

Tom Bower