The UK Rules
Carrying Knives

Laws for Carrying a Knife in Public

If an adult gets caught carrying a knife it can result in a 4 year prison sentence and an unlimited fine. A second conviction for the same offence would result in automatic imprisonment.

LAWS ON KNIVES UK: Legislation governs selling, buying, or carrying a knife. It is against the law to:

Note: The law on carrying knives in Scotland differs. You can buy cutlery and kitchen knives from the age of sixteen (16) in Scotland.

Lock Knives UK Law

The definition of a lock knife is one that has similarities to a folding knife. That means a spring holds it closed. But, it also has a mechanism that locks the blade in position when extended 'fully'. Thus, you cannot close the bladed part without releasing that mechanism.

No matter how short the blade is, the law does not define any type of lock knives as a folding pocket knife. Thus, it is illegal to carry a lock knife without a valid excuse for doing so.

Lock knives were not made to be a weapon per se. Thus, they are not typical offensive weapons 'in the eyes of the law'. Even so, it is an offence to have possession of a lock knife in a public place (without a reasonable excuse for having it).

Note: Possession of a multi-tool may also break the laws for carrying a knife in the United Kingdom.

This type of instrument often incorporates a prohibited bladed instrument or a sharp point. This is despite other sections of the tool being of use to a person in a public place (e.g. a bottle opener or a screwdriver). As a rule, lock knives:

Complete List of Banned Knives and Weapons

United Kingdom law does not all anyone to bring into the country, hire, lend, sell, or give to another person:

Note: The best advice is to contact a local police force if you need to check whether a knife or a weapon is legal or illegal.

Valid Grounds for Carrying a Knife or a Weapon

In some cases, the reason to carry a knife or a weapon in public may be a good one and not breaking any laws on knives. Typical examples would include:

Note: It would be for a court to determine it as a valid reason (or not) if the police charge you with carrying a knife or a weapon illegally.

Common Questions about Knives Answered by the Police

Is it Illegal to Carry a Knife in Your Pocket?

As a rule, yes it is illegal to carry any sharp or bladed instrument in your pocket while in a public place. The law excludes a folding pocket knife providing the blade is less than 7.62 cm or three (3) inches.

Even so, it is not a total ban. It would be for the person in possession of such an instrument to prove they had a valid reason for possessing it. For example, it could be genuine while fishing or back packing across the Lake District. Thus, it would not be unreasonable to use a sharp knife to prepare a meal.

You would have much more difficulty justifying the possession of a knife on the streets of a city or a town. Even so, there may be occasions when someone has a genuine reason to do so. For example, while going to attend a martial arts sport or a scout meeting (the police would check).

Note: The penalty for committing this type of offence can result in a maximum prison sentence of four (4) years.

Can I Sell Knives from a Shop to Youngsters?

Many shop owners are unaware of the knives age restriction in the United Kingdom. It is illegal to sell knives to anyone if they are under the age of 18. An exception applies in Scotland which allows youngsters from 16 to buy kitchen knives.

Laws for Carrying a Knife in Public in the United KingdomShop owners should note that the general ban includes:

Note: As a retailer, you have a responsibility to ensure your staff comply with the law for selling knives from a shop.

How Can I Dispose of Kitchen Knives Safely?

Putting old or unwanted knives in the bin is not illegal. Even so, it is best to package them is a safe manner to avoid injury to any other persons.

Most rubbish collection operates by a machine since the introduction of wheelie bins. Thus, there is less likelihood of a bin collector getting an injury from a discarded knife.

Tip: You can take all metal knives to a waste disposal site where there will be a skip for the collection of scrap metal.

Note: Did you find the answer you were searching for? If not, you might find it under a different category in the Police Questions and Answers section.

Answers to Police Questions about Knives in the United Kingdom