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BHETA Responsible Knife Retailing Group meets

BHETA were delighted to host around 30 senior industry professionals from suppliers and retailers for an open session on the latest Government Guidance on the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 which is said to be enacted in “the Spring”, with the goal of April 6th.

The meeting was chaired by BHETA Chief Operating Officer, Will Jones, with presentations from Tony Allen, Chair of the Expert Panel on Age Restrictions and CEO of the Age Check Certification Scheme, and Steve Richardson from BHETA, and Trevor Hamshere from The Metropolitan Police’s Business Crime Reduction Hub.

Tony and Steve outlined an overview of the proposals and the products included under the definitions Bladed Articles, Bladed products, Corrosives; they discussed what that means for in-store selling and on-line selling, and the age verification options that exist.

Trevor Hampshire from the Met Police – national lead on Knife Crime – outlined the collaborative work the Police are undertaking: data capture at crime scenes to identify knife types and origin; and their work on highlighting the new legislation through education, outreach, educative test purchasing, and through videos, leaflets and Point of sale.

Key Point summary of the legislation

The Statutory Guidance provides interpretation on selling products to under 18s and remotely

Corrosive Products & Substances

  • typically relates to high strength drain cleaners/unblockers, paint strippers, brick and patio cleaners, cleaning products, rust or limescale removers.

Bladed items

  • includes any kitchen knife regardless of size or design, cutlery knives, bread knives
  • knives used for the purpose of hobbies and trades, such as stanley knives and snap-off cutters
  • gardening tools, or any other trade tool, that could commonly be described as a knife

Remote Sales

The legislation sets out that it is illegal to sell corrosives or bladed items to under 18s or remotely. However, it then sets out defences that you could use to avoid prosecution: If charged with selling to an under 18, “it is a defence to prove that the accused took all reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence to avoid committing the offence”. i.e. by checking ages of buyers by requiring the person to produce recognised documents such as a passport or driving licence to prove age or, if it is an online sale, through the use of a system to check the age of the purchaser.

If charged with selling remotely it would be a defence to say you had complied with all these points:

  • Robust Age verification system at purchase
  • Clearly marked packaging
  • The seller must ensure a delivered package is handed over to a person aged 18 or over
  • The seller cannot deliver to a locker


A disappointing aspect for many BHETA members is the retention of cutlery knives within the provisions of the Act. Since 1998, it has been illegal to sell cutlery knives to under 18s in stores, although the guidance states “most cutlery knives … are unlikely to be considered as bladed products” and therefore can be delivered to residential properties”. In practice, cutlery knives have not been used in crime, or deemed dangerous in the past, so have not featured in test purchasing. The Group were concerned about the legality of selling cutlery without age verification on-going. BHETA were encouarged by attendees from retail and suppliers to lobby on their behalf in this area.

The meeting was attended by representatives from, amongst others: Burton McCall, Fackelmann Brands, Fiskars, Gastromony Ltd, Grunwerg, Haus Marketing & Distribution, Kuhn Rikon UK Ltd, Rayware, Robert Welch Designs Ltd, Taylors Eye Witness, Asda, British Independent Retailers Association, Harts of Stur, John Lewis and Lakeland.

If any member or retailer is interested in attending a future meeting, or viewing a recording of this meeting, then please contact Rajni in BHETA member services at


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