Publication - Research and analysis

Recorded crime in Scotland: handling offensive weapons

Published: 26 Jun 2018
Directorate:
Safer Communities Directorate
Part of:
Law and order, Statistics
ISBN:
9781787810549

This report presents information on handling offensive weapons recorded by the police.

61 page PDF

1.8 MB

61 page PDF

1.8 MB

Contents
Recorded crime in Scotland: handling offensive weapons
1. Introduction

61 page PDF

1.8 MB

1. Introduction

This report presents a range of information on the handling of offensive weapons within public places in Scotland, including;

  • The legislation used to record these crimes.
  • Trends in crimes of handling offensive weapons, including those recorded by the police, proceedings against offenders, the public’s perception of weapon carrying and hospital admissions due to assault with a sharp object.
  • Findings from research into recorded crimes of handling offensive weapons in public, based on a random sample of 1,500 police crime records. This includes perpetrator characteristics, types of weapons used, additional crimes committed with those weapons and other background information.
  • A description of changes made to how crimes of weapon possession are recorded by the police - whereby from the 1 st April 2017, crimes of handling offensive weapons are no longer aggravated into a related crime or offence where the weapon has been used by the perpetrator against another person. Scottish Government statistics have reviewed the implementation of this change through checking a random sample of crime records. The outcome of that exercise is included in this report.

Legislation

A person in possession of an offensive weapon whilst in a public place, school or prison, without reasonable excuse or lawful authority, is guilty of a crime under the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 [1] .

Sections 47 and 49 of the Act define an offensive weapon as ‘any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to a person, or intended, by the person having the article, for use for causing injury to a person by (i) the person having it, or (ii) some other person’.

A public place is defined as any place other than domestic premises, school premises or a prison (with the Act making separate provisions for the latter two). ‘Domestic premises’ means ‘premises occupied as a private dwelling (including any stair, passage, garden, yard, garage, outhouse or other appurtenance of such premises which is not used in common by the occupants of more than one such dwelling)’.

Section 49 of the Act also makes it a specific crime to have any article with a blade or point in a public place, school or prison, without reasonable excuse or lawful authority. Whilst an ‘article with a blade or point’ may often be thought of as some type of knife, the definition can be considered to be wider than this, including for example an axe or an improvised weapon with a razor blade attached.

The Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995:

A person in possession of an offensive weapon whilst in a public place, school or prison, without reasonable excuse or lawful authority, is guilty of a crime under the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995.

Public setting: Any place other than a domestic premises, school premises or a prison. Domestic premises means occupied as a private dwelling (i.e. areas not used in common by occupants of the dwelling.

Offensive weapon: Any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to a person, or intended, by the person having the article, for use for causing injury to a person by (i) the person having it, or (ii) some other person.

Article with a blade or point: Covered by Section 49 of the Act and while may often be thought of as some type of knife, the definition can be considered to be wider, including an axe or an improvised weapon with a razor blade attached.

In April 2018, the UK Government announced plans to introduce an Offensive Weapons Bill to tackle serious violence. This Bill will make proposals that if enacted could change the legislative landscape used to record crimes of weapon possession, including in Scotland [2] . This in turn could affect the number of weapons-related crimes recorded by Police Scotland. Some of the areas identified by the Home Office for inclusion in the Bill are plans to make new criminal offences of possessing corrosive substances in a public place or certain offensive weapons like zombie knives or knuckle dusters in private settings. Specific provisions in the proposed Bill also update the definition of a flick knife to reflect changing weapon designs.


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