Offensive Weapons Act



On the 14th of July 2021, commencement of the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 will bring in tough new measures that strengthen law enforcement’s response to violent crime. The act makes it illegal to possess dangerous weapons in private, including knuckledusters, zombie knives and death star knives, and you will soon have to verify you are over 18 to buy bladed items from the internet. The video below will tell you more about the changes to the law, and how it may affect you.


On the 6th of April 2022 further provisions of the act were implement by government. These will affect you if you are involved in the sale or delivery of bladed items. To find out more, click here.



What items can I no longer possess?

The legislation amends section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 to make it a criminal offence to possess in private any weapon set out in the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) Order. Since 1988 it has been an offence to manufacture, sell, hire, offer to sell or hire, possess for the purposes of sale or hire, import, lend or give weapons to which that section applies, and this section makes unlawful the simple possession of these.

In England and Wales, and in relation to this legislation, a private place is a place other than:
• a public place
• school premises
• further education premises, or
• a prison
 prohibited articles

How does this affect online purchases?

Later in the year, you will notice changes to the process of purchasing bladed articles online. These will include:

• You will need to verify you are 18 or over. This may include the use of identity documents, credit checks or age verification systems.
• You CANNOT have bladed items delived to a locker or other automated pick up point.
• Items will be clearly labelled as bladed articles, and those delivering the items may ask you for proof of age.

Be prepared for these changes now to ensure you recieve the items you order promptly and without issue, and ALWAYS ensure you store knives securely at home.

bladed article delivery


Where can I find out more?

Read the Offensive Weapons Act Legislation in full
This is the original version (as it was originally enacted in Parliament).

Read the statutory guidance at the Home Office website
The statutory guidance sets out how the legislation should be implemented and applied, the obligations imposed under the act, and what factors should be taken into account when making decisions on how to proceed with individual cases of the possession, sale and delivery of knives, corrosives and offensive weapons, and the use of these to threaten others.

Find your local Police service and contact details
The single Police online home will enable you to contact your local police service and contact them in regards to any queries or concerns you have in regards to the offensive weapons act.



Additional Resources

Are you involved in a school, youth club or community project that would benefit from A4 posters surrounding this? Contact the MPS Business Crime Hub for solutions around community engagement and for printed versions of our A4 poster covering the key facts of the new legislation. You can also download and print a copy of this below.


OWA Public Poster

Retailers & Couriers

The National Business Crime Centre is committed to supporting retailers and manufacturers who work within the legislation, and this page will be updated with further guidance to help ensure your organisations that sell or deliver knives will be informed on how to best follow the law closer to this part of the legislation being commenced. If you have any queries prior to this, contact the Metropolitan Police Business Crime Hub who can work with you to ensure your organisation is compliant.