Possession of a bladed article
Published by a LexisPSL Corporate Crime expert

The following Corporate Crime practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Possession of a bladed article
  • The offence of possession of a bladed article
  • Elements of the offence
  • Bladed and sharply pointed articles
  • Folding pocket knives
  • Having the item with them
  • Public places
  • Statutory defences
  • Good reason/lawful authority
  • Self-harm
  • More...

Possession of a bladed article

Stop Press: This Practice Note is currently being updated to reflect amendments to the sentencing of offences explained in this Practice Note by the Offensive Weapons Act 2019 and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. For further information, see the government’s Statutory guidance here.

The offence of possession of a bladed article

The offence of having a bladed article in a public place can be tried in either the magistrates' court or the Crown Court. The magistrates' court will decline jurisdiction in those cases where it appears that its powers of sentencing are insufficient.

See Sentence below.

Elements of the offence

Under section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (CJA 1988) the prosecution must prove the accused:

  1. had with them

  2. in a public place

  3. a bladed article, or

  4. a sharply pointed article (other than a folding pocket knife whose blade is less than three inches)

Bladed and sharply pointed articles

The provisions of CJA 1988 apply to articles with a blade or articles that are sharply pointed, other than a folding pocket knife. A folding pocket knife will fall within the provisions if its blade exceeds three inches.

It is a question of law for the court to decide whether the provisions apply. The test is whether the article falls within the category of a knife or sharply pointed instrument. In R v Davis,

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