Just by carrying a knife you could end up in court.
It is illegal to carry a knife, even if it belongs to somebody else and if you are caught you will be arrested.
Anyone who is carrying a knife and is intending to use it as a weapon – even in self-defence - can be arrested, go to court and receive a police record or even a prison sentence of up to 4 years.
The police can search anyone they suspect of carrying a knife.
Some people say that they carry a knife for protection or to make them feel safer, even though they wouldn’t think of using it. However, research has shown that you’re actually more likely to become a victim of crime if you carry a knife.
The maximum prison sentence for carrying a knife is four years, but if you use the knife in a crime or to injure someone the penalties are a lot worse. Under 'joint enterprise' rules, prosecutors also have the power to bring before the courts people who were present when a crime was committed so that all face the same serious charges.
It is illegal to:
Lock knives are not classed as folding knives and are illegal to carry in public without good reason. Lock knives:
Examples of good reasons to carry a knife in public can include:
A court will decide if you’ve got a good reason to carry a knife if you’re charged with carrying it illegally.
Examples of knives that are completely banned are:
It is illegal to bring into the UK, sell, hire, lend or give anyone the following:
butterfly knives (also known as ‘balisongs’) - a blade hidden inside a handle that splits in the middle
disguised knives - a blade or sharp point hidden inside what looks like everyday objects such as a buckle, phone, brush or lipstick
flick knives (also known as ‘switchblades’ or ‘automatic knives’) - a blade hidden inside a handle which shoots out when a button is pressed
stealth knives - a knife or spike not made from metal (except when used at home, for food or a toy)
zombie knives - a knife with a cutting edge, a serrated edge and images or words suggesting it is used for violence
swords, including samurai swords - a curved blade over 50cm (with some exceptions, such as antiques and swords made to traditional methods before 1954)
sword-sticks - a hollow walking stick or cane containing a blade
blowpipes (‘blow gun’)
telescopic truncheons - extend automatically by pressing button or spring in the handle
batons - straight, side-handled or friction-lock truncheons
hollow kubotans - a cylinder-shaped keychain holding spikes
shurikens (also known as ‘shaken’, ‘death stars’ or ‘throwing stars’)
kusari-gama - a sickle attached to a rope, cord or wire
kyoketsu-shoge - a hook-knife attached to a rope, cord or wire
kusari (or ‘manrikigusari’) - a weight attached to a rope, cord, wire
hand or foot-claws
This is not a complete list of banned knives and weapons. Contact us to check if a knife or weapon is illegal.
The Offensive Weapons Act 2019 makes it unlawful to own specific firearms, knives, and other offensive weapons.
Section 46 of the act makes it unlawful to possess specific weapons, including knuckledusters, flick knives and zombie knives in private, meaning people can no longer keep them at home. The definition of a flick knife has also been updated to reflect changes in design over recent years.
In 2021 the legislation changed and it is now an offence to possess certain items such as knuckledusters, throwing stars, zombie knives, even in your own home. There is also updated definition of flick knives to reflect changes in weapon designs, and the banning of private possession of flick knives and gravity knives.
It also included new provisions for the control of goods sold online, as well as placing responsibility onto delivery companies to conduct age verification at delivery stage. These are important developments that will help us to address the growing issue of online sale of knives.
This is part of wider action to tackle serious violence and keep communities safe from dangerous weapons.