New statutory guidance issued under Offensive Weapons Act

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The government has released the final draft of statutory guidance to be issued under section 66 of the Offensive Weapons Act 2019.

Retailers in England and Wales who administer the sale and delivery of knives need to ensure they comply with the new guidance, which takes effect in April.

The statutory guidance also provides advice in respect of sections 1 to 4 of the Act in Scotland in relation to the sale and delivery of corrosive products. It does not apply in Northern Ireland.

This guidance relates to the following Parts of the Act: Corrosive products and substances, Sale and delivery of knives etc., Possession etc. of certain offensive weapons, Threatening with offensive weapons and Enforcement.

The sales and delivery part of the guidance sets out the obligations placed on retailers, online sellers and marketplaces to ensure that they comply with the law and explains the defences available, which require that all reasonable precautions are taken and all due diligence exercised to avoid committing an offence.

The new guidance, part of efforts to tackle youth violence, is designed to increase security and make it harder for young people to buy weapons or other controlled items.

In England and Wales, the new regulations mean that sellers must have a system in place to verify the purchaser is not under 18, and all packages containing these materials must be clearly marked to indicate that it contains a corrosive/offensive product.

The new legislation includes age verification at collection points, particularly regarding lockers where age verification is not easily enabled. For collection points, sellers need to ensure that any package is clearly marked, stating it contains a corrosive product and should not be handed over to anyone under the age of 18, at the point of dispatch to the collection point.

In addition, sellers much take all reasonable precautions to ensure that when the package is delivered, it is handed over to a person age 18 or over, and the seller does not deliver the package or arrange for it to be delivered, to a locker.

Sellers also need to take all reasonable precautions and exercise all due diligence to ensure that, when supplied to the buyer from a collection point, the package would not be delivered into the hands of someone under 18. According to the government, sellers should adapt their existing ‘Think 21’ or ‘Think 25’ policies if these are not already in place.

Read the full guidance here.