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It is an offence to possess certain weapons in private unless a defence applies, please see the table below for a full list of these weapons:
Knife Type Description
Butterfly knives Also known as ‘balisongs’. A handle that splits in the middle to reveal a blade.
Disguised knives A blade or sharp point hidden inside something that looks like an everyday object such as a buckle, phone, brush or lipstick.
Flick knives or gravity knives Also known as ‘switchblades’ or ‘automatic knives’. Folding knives where the blade opens automatically, by gravity or by pressing a button or something else on the knife.
Stealth knives Non metal knives or spikes which are not made for use at home, for food or as a toy.
Zombie knives A knife with a cutting edge, a serrated edge and images or words suggesting it is used for violence.
Swords A curved blade over 50 centimetres, with some exceptions such as antiques, swords made to traditional methods, swords made before 1954, certain religious reasons or for the purposes of an organisation holding a historical activity or sporting activity for which public insurance liability is held.
Swordstick A hollow walking stick or cane containing a blade.
Push dagger A knife where the handle fits within a clenched fist and the blade comes out from between two fingers.
Blowpipes Sometimes known as ‘blow guns’. A hollow tube out of which hard pellets or darts are shot by the use of breath.
Telescopic truncheons A knife that extends automatically, or by pressing a button or spring that is in or attached to the handle.
Batons Straight, side-handled or friction-lock truncheons.
Hollow kubotan A cylinder-shaped container containing a number of sharp spikes
Shurikens Also known as ‘shaken’, ‘death stars’ or ‘throwing stars’. A hard non-flexible plate with three or more sharp radiating points, designed to be thrown.
Kusari gama A sickle attached to a rope, cord, chain or wire.
Kyoketsu shoge A hook-knife attached to a rope, cord, chain or wire.
Kusari or ‘manrikigusari’ A weight or hand grip attached to a rope, cord, chain or wire.
Handclaws A band of metal or other hard material worn on the hand, from which sharp spikes come out.
Footclaws A bar of metal or other hard material worn on the foot, from which a number of sharp spikes come out.
Knuckle dusters A band of metal or other hard material worn on one or more fingers.
Cyclone or spiral knives A blade with one or more cutting edges that form a spiral and come to a point.
Belt buckle knife A buckle which incorporates or conceals a knife.
Defences for possession in private include:
  • the weapon is of historical importance
  • the weapon is an antique (manufactured more than 100 years ago)
  • in their capacity as the operator of, or as a person acting on behalf of, a museum or gallery
  • educational purposes
  • theatrical performances and rehearsals, the production of films and television programmes
  • conduct carried out on behalf of the Crown or of a visiting force
Whether a defence applies will be judged on a case by case basis and will ultimately be a matter for a court to decide.
If you are unsure whether an item in your possession is illegal or you wish to surrender a weapon, you should contact your local police force. 
Please also see the links below which provide information on the law relating to possession of knives and offensive weapons in public places:


It is an offence for a person under the age of 18 to have a crossbow in their possession and/or its component parts, unless they are under the supervision of a person aged 21 or over. This applies to all places not just in public places and also applies to hiring a crossbow.

The legislation only applies to crossbows, which have a certain strength, a draw weight of over 1.4 kilograms.

However, even if you are over 18 then there are only limited circumstances when you would be able to possess it without falling foul of the law on offensive weapons. Please see Q338 for more details of offensive weapons.

In addition, the bolts used in a crossbow might also fall within the scope of an offence of pointed article/blades. Please see Q337 for more information.

Contact your local police force

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