New knife legislation – including cutlery – to come into force this April

The British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA) has been advised by the government that the new Offensive Weapons Act (OWA2019), which includes new laws on the retailing of bladed items, is scheduled to come into force in early April this year.  

Mindful of the products specifically mentioned in the legislation, it is holding a meeting of its bladed items steering group on 11 February.

The new OWA contains measures on the sales and delivery of corrosive products and knives and bladed products and articles. The Home Office ‘expects to commence all the remaining provisions of the Act in Spring 2022, including the sales and delivery provisions relating to corrosive products and knives and bladed products and articles’, and has advised that this is likely to be on or around 6 April 2022.

The Statutory Guidance provides interpretation on selling products to under eighteens and remotely and the act will cover:

a. any kitchen knife regardless of size or design, cutlery knives, bread knives

b. knives used for the purpose of hobbies and trades, such as Stanley knives and snap-off cutters

c. gardening tools, or any other trade tool which could commonly be described as a knife

Thanks to lobbying by BHETA in the run up to the act, items such as scissors and secateurs are now excluded completely and cutlery, utility, snap off cutters, pizza cutters and small cheese knives are now explicitly listed as being ‘unlikely’ to be considered part of the Act for online sales.

The legislative advice also covers appropriate defences for suppliers of bladed items, should issues arise. These are:

i. Robust age verification system at point of purchase 

ii. Clearly marked packaging

iii. The seller has ensured that a delivered package is handed over to a person aged eighteen or over 

iv. The seller has not delivered to a locker

Commenting on the update, BHETA’s Chief Operating Officer, Will Jones, who chairs the steering group said, “I am pleased that the government has stuck to its plan to provide the industry with a notice period, which is one of the points about which BHETA has been lobbying – and that certain products are excluded.  I am disappointed that cutlery remains within the scope of the new OWA, but our meeting will continue to advise on planning and the practical measures which the home enhancement industry can take to achieve a result that is both workable and responsible.”

The British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA) represents many of the leading UK suppliers of housewares, home improvement and garden products.  It created a consultative steering group comprising most of the top retailers and suppliers of bladed items, following lobbying initiatives in 2018.  Participants in the BHETA campaign include John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Dunelm, Steamer Trading, T K Maxx, Elys of Wimbledon, Harts of Stur, Taylor’s Eye Witness, Meyer, Haus, Burton McCall, Kuhn Rikon, Rayware and Robert Welch.  

BHETA has also been collaborating with the Metropolitan Police on the project since summer 2019.

For more information about BHETA, BHETA lobbying and the BHETAresponsible knife retailing campaign, contact the BHETA Member Services team on 0121 237 1130 or visit the BHETA website www.bheta.co.uk.

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