There are three categories of offensive weapons:
1. Items that are made for the purpose of causing injury and have no other practical purpose in the normal world (and are offensive weapons per se) -
- Examples are flick knives, daggers, knuckledusters , butterfly knives, sword sticks, truncheons , and bayonets.
2. Items that are adapted or altered in some way for the purpose of causing injury -
- Examples are sharpened screwdrivers, smashing a bottle to make the broken end into a weapon for causing injury, or stout dowelling with Stanley blades in the end.
3. Items that are not specifically made or adapted to cause injury but are carried for that purpose -
- Examples are a hammer, cricket ball, baseball bat, scissors, razor, a stone, pick axe handle etc.
Almost any item can be considered to be an offensive weapon if the person carrying the item intends to use it to cause injury.
Whether an item is an offensive weapon is a question of facts for a jury, based on the full facts of the case.
It is an offence for any person who without lawful authority or reasonable excuse has with them in any public place, any offensive weapon. It is also an offence to possess (including in private) any offensive weapon as outlined in category 1, i.e. those that are made for the purpose of causing injury.
Where a particular knife is not deemed to be an offensive weapon, be aware that there is also a specific offence of having a bladed article in a public place. Please see Q337 for further information.